There are many ways to relieve stress with exercise to improve sleep quality.
Going to bed stressed is not only bad for your mental health, it will also interrupt your sleep patterns.
By exercising in the right way before bed, you can ‘let off a little steam’ and reduce your stress levels for more restful sleep.
Read on to learn the best exercises for relieving stress before bed so that you can get a peaceful night without problems playing on your mind.
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How Does Stress Make it Harder to Sleep?
There is a bidirectional relationship between chronic stress and insomnia — insomnia causes stress, and stress causes sleepless nights. Unfortunately, insomnia can cause stress levels to increase, which interrupts sleep, worsening insomnia symptoms.
Mental stress can reduce your quality of sleep, leading to daytime sleepiness and sleep disruptions. In fact, one of the main effects of stress, besides increased heart rate, is lack of sleep.
Stress causes high levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, in the body. The purpose of cortisol is to keep the body alert to danger. This means that high levels of the hormone make it hard to sleep. Not only that, but sleep deprivation also leads to higher cortisol, causing a vicious cycle of sleeplessness.
High blood pressure is often categorized as a stress response. Increasing levels of stress can lead to high blood pressure. Hypertension is a common condition in which the long-term force of the blood flow is high enough to cause the heart to pump harder and work overtime, which eventually can cause stress-related health problems.
In turn, high blood pressure also increases insomnia. In fact, insomnia is one of the risk factors for hypertension, along with obstructive sleep apnea.
How Does Exercise Help Relieve Stress?
Physical activity, such as regular exercise, has been shown to be a very effective stress relief tool. However, one of the main symptoms of stress is a lack of motivation, which can make you less likely to engage in physical exercise.
A study found that healthy adults who are physically fit reported feeling less stress overall. Since stress reduction is one of the primary benefits of exercise, physical movement is one of the best ways to combat stress.
Not only should you be engaging in acitvities that get your body moving, you should also explore the many health benefits of activities that promote deep breathing exercises and mindfulness, such as yoga.
Mind-body exercise not only helps to quiet your mind, it’s also an aerobic workout. Aerobic exercises combined with body movement promote a relaxation response that lessens the effects of stress.
What Does Science Say About Exercising Before Bed?
While physical activity is helpful in reducing stress and anxiety, your bedtime exercise regime should be a moderate intensity session, not a high-intensity workout. That said, intense activity doesn’t seem to have harmful effects or affect sleep in healthy young adults.
You don’t need to exercise at bedtime to feel the effects of physical movement on your sleep. Incorporating any form of exercise or vigorous activity, such as cardio workouts, into your everyday life promotes feelings of calmness and increases sleep duration.
If you’re looking for a moderate intensity exercise to try out before bed, yoga has been shown to reduce insomnia and anxiety, and facilitate better sleep.
5 Physical Forms of Exercise to Relieve Stress Before Bed
If you have trouble falling asleep because your mind won’t stop whirring, try these five forms of exercise to relieve stress before bed.
1. Tai Chi
Tai Chi leads to lots of physical benefits including a reduction in acute stress and lower blood pressure. As Tai Chi is also a great cardiovascular exercise helping to prevent cardiovascular disease.
As a stress management tool, Tai Chi reduces mental stress by combining body movements and mental exercises to become a powerful mindful exercise.
2. Walking in nature
Walking in nature improves mood and serves as a stress reliever. Exercise sessions in nature also provide positive physiological effects and emotional benefits, such as reduction of chronic stress and better sleep.
In fact, those who walk in nature tend to have an improved quality of life compared to those who don’t.
3. Yin Yoga
One of the main positive effects of yin yoga is stress reduction. Combining mindfulness and meditation with gentle yoga moves, yin yoga is frequently recommended as a stress management strategy.
If you’d like to try yoga but you’re unsure whether you have the strength or flexibility, try chair-based yoga postures first.
If you’re looking for yoga classes to help you deal with stress and sleep issues, try Fit2Be’s online yoga courses.
5. Deep breathing exercises
Pranayama meditation has been shown to help relieve stress. This form of meditation uses deep breathing exercises that reduce anxiety symptoms and induce a natural relaxation response.
Progressive muscle relaxation is another breathwork exercise that combines deep breathing with relaxing muscles. PMR leads to improvements in stress and anxiety symptoms.
Yoga Nidra is another form of meditative breathwork that helps relieve stress and improve sleep by inducing a calm state between awake and asleep. This helps you sleep better as well as improves stress.
If you suffer from stress-induced insomnia, it’s time to try exercise.
Not only does physical activity has plenty of benefits for your health, but it’s also a great way to improve the quality of your sleep. This helps to restore both your body and your mind.
Yoga is one of the best ways to relieve stress to sleep easier as it combines mind relaxation techniques and body movements. Try Fit2Be’s online yoga classes to sleep easier at night and tone down your stress.
Welcome to Snoozerville! I’m Dr. Alex Hartley, your guide to the world of restful sleep. With a Ph.D. in Sleep Science and years of experience as a sleep therapist, I’ve dedicated my life to understanding and improving sleep quality. My passion lies in uncovering the mysteries of sleep and sharing practical, science-backed advice to help you achieve the best rest possible. Beyond my academic pursuits, I’m an advocate for mindfulness and relaxation techniques, which I incorporate into my daily routine. At Snoozerville, I aim to transform your nights, combining the latest research with easy-to-implement tips. Whether you’re a chronic insomniac or just looking to improve your sleep hygiene, join me on this journey towards peaceful, rejuvenating sleep.