Move? Yes, you might understand intellectually that exercise is good for you, but right now you’re too tired to start an exercise routine. What you need is sleep! Yes, you do need sleep, but here’s the thing. One of the fastest ways to get to a good night’s sleep is through exercise—the right kind of exercise, and exercise at the right time—but exercise. Plain and simple, you need to move.
You won’t need an elaborate gym membership complete with personal trainer and new exercise clothes. You can, for example, do something as simple as walking for 30 minutes a day. The key to success is not in how you move, but that you exercise in moderation, and that you do it consistently. That means every day.
You’ll also want to time your exercise routines so that you do more stimulating exercises earlier in the day, and more gentle movement later in the day, and no exercise in the hour before bedtime. For example, aerobic exercise may be good for your body, but if you want to sleep you’ll need to avoid aerobic workouts later in the day.
Insomnia means your body is already on alert and you’re having trouble calming down at night. So in the later afternoon and evening you don’t want to choose activities that are stimulating.
How late in the day? That varies for different people. Set your schedule so that you perform all heavy exercises earlier in the day, and if you don’t get results keep moving the time to earlier and earlier in the day. And instead of one exercise period, you might try breaking your exercise into a couple of shorter periods, which works well for some people.
If you don’t already have an exercise routine, begin exercising with simple movement. In addition to walking in the neighborhood, how about trying some simple yoga or qigong movements? You might find that you like it. Or if you want to use equipment, treadmills and exercise bicycles are good because of the rhythm they provide. Remember, the key is moderation and consistency.
If you develop a workout routine you like but you’re still having trouble sleeping, think about how to change what you’re doing to make it less stimulating. For example, you might change the intensity of your workout, or perhaps the duration, and keep making modifications until you find that can relax in the hour before bed. This can make all the difference in being able to sleep.
Sleep experts advise people to set a sleep schedule, a specific time to go to sleep and a specific time to wake up. That’s an important way to help the body and mind set an internal clock that makes sleep more possible. It might also help if you develop your exercise program so that you’re doing the same exercises around the same time each day. Establishing patterns for your body can be a big help in curing sleeplessness.
Along these same lines, establishing good eating habits and consistent times when you eat can also help you create a rhythm for yourself that can help you sleep at night.