If you have ever suffered from anxiety or depression, you know that good sleep is extremely important to getting your mental health back on track. Some sufferers of these mental health conditions experience insomnia, while others sleep too much but aren’t getting good sleep. So how can you improve your sleep while also improving your mental and physical health? The answer is simple: exercise.
Exercise and Mental Health
Exercise is one proven way to get endorphins (those coveted happy hormones) coursing through your veins. Even just 15 minutes of light exercise daily can make a huge difference in your mental and physical well-being. Exercise has been proven to decrease stress, improve sleep, and boost overall mood.
When it comes to depression, exercise has been proven to be just as effective as a low dose of antidepressant medication. The changes that exercise promotes in the brain directly fight the effects of depression. Not to mention, it’s a great distraction from your negative thoughts.
Anxiety sufferers agree that focusing on exercise is a meditative experience. Whether it’s a meditative activity like yoga, or just the pace and rhythm of running, using exercise as a way to be in the moment can help with the flow of anxious thoughts.
How Can Exercise Help Me Sleep?
You can’t argue with science: studies have shown that a direct benefit of exercise is better sleep. Some fringe benefits are improving mood, mental health, and providing a general sense of well-being. Many people exercise regularly for these benefits more than for the physical benefits of exercise.
A combination of physical exhaustion and mental relaxation is a perfect recipe for better sleep.
Exercising Before Bed
You may be thinking: “But if I exercise before bed, won’t I be too wound up to fall asleep?” The answer is simply: no. Similar to sex (a popular before bed activity), exercise releases endorphins, gets your heart rate pumping, and helps give your body the physical exhaustion and release it needs to get a proper night’s sleep.
If you’re still worried that exercise before bed will make it difficult to fall asleep, try a meditative or gentle form of exercising. Yoga or light stretching are good options to calm your body and your mind down before your head hits the pillow.
Exercise is a great treatment option for a variety of maladies, and mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression are no exception. Not only will exercise help improve your physical health, it will also have a lasting positive effect on your mental well-being.