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How Running Improves Your Quality of Sleep

Posted on September 21 2017

By now, the fact that exercise and sleep are related and that both can have a profound effect on each other is probably redundant already. Beyond the statements however, you’d find that most people do not know the ‘how’ and they ‘why’. Running like most exercises is very beneficial in a lot of ways to one’s health. Some few ways in which occasionally clocking some miles on foot can affect the quality of your sleep include: -

1. Exhaustion and Homeostasis

As with every intense exercise, calories are burnt up and as such, we will usually feel exhausted after a run. During the exercise, the body rapidly burns glucose as its source of fuel in a series of steps that involve energy release; these processes are reflected on the body as sweat, increased heart rate and temperature increase, all of which occur in the sympathetic state.

Once the workout run has been completed, the body like all engines that have been put to work, will cool down and regulate heartrate back to regular while balance all other metabolisms in a parasympathetic process. Naturally, once the body is tired and has cooled down, there is a natural tendency to relax and fall asleep. This exhaustion can have a significant effect on the quality of sleep as an exhausted person will always sleep heavier than an energetic person.

It is very important to note that running should not be done in the evening or in hours close to bedtime as the body may linger in the sympathetic and over-primed phase for too long, leaving you with excess energy and consequentially restlessness.

2. Stress Relief

A major sleep-killer is the cortisol hormone that is associated with high stress levels in the body. The presence of Cortisol is not only counteractive on the physical improvements you are looking to gain on your body, it can also disrupt body functions striking hormonal balance. Apart from physical benefits that accompany running, exercising can have a good effect on mental strength and help to flush out stress as the brain is stimulated during exercises to release the endorphin hormones.

These endorphins significantly help to counter the effect of the cortisol hormone and subsequently lead to better sleeping habits that involve less tossing and turning in bed. Also, post-workout meal, which is an indirect consequence of running, can affect the quality and quantity of sleep. After a run is completed, everyone who values their health and is looking to restore worn out tissues and depleted energy reserves will eat a post-workout meal.

In most cases these post workout meals consist of carbohydrates majorly, then protein and fat. Research has shown that the body tends to feel sleepy after a meal when in a relaxed state, and as such, post-workout meals following the running activity can help stimulate sleep and rest and also reduce cortisol stress levels as the body does away with the feeling of hunger.

3. Strengthened Circadian Rhythms

Imagine if our internal organs and muscles had their own clocks, helping them dictate when to function and how to function at a particular time? Well they do. These body and muscle clocks are referred to as Circadian rhythms. Running can have a profound influence on the body circadian rhythms especially when done at the right time.

The advantages of running in the daytime over evening means that your activity is taking place in sync with when your muscles are most responsive to them and will consequently promote the brain to determine periods for daytime alertness and night-time restfulness and kick in sleep naturally when due.

Final Ideas
In our world today, where the economy does not permit sleeping for long hours without bearing the backlash of debt and other consequences, it is very important to get as much quality sleep as you can. Sleep has a profound effect on the performance at work and daily activities, especially for the women on the go.

Insufficient sleep can also affect performance as an athlete as most of the repairs and muscle strengthening take place during sleep. Running can help aid the quality of sleep by doing away with body stress, strengthening circadian rhythms and of course by enabling the body fall into deeper sleep just from being tired from a workout.

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