Exercising and sleep

A place for Sleepio members to discuss the relationship between exercise and sleep problems.

Posted 16 Jan 2014 at 9:51 AM
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  • Sleepio Member

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    Session 2

    Hi, I am an elderly cyclist and occasionally take a club ride of say 60 miles and dependant on who leads the ride it can be tough and I find it very difficult to sleep on that particular night and the next day I feel mentally exhausted. I have tried recovery drinks but I am not sure they help

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    I did a body pump course about 4 days a week for 7+ years before the insomnia got bad and out of control (stopped it about 3 years ago). I wasn't doing any competitive lifting – just cardio/weights in a group but it really made me feel good about my body. However, as my sleep worsened, I found it hard to imagine lifting anything when so tired (plus, at the end I did a number on my back as well). For years, exercising later in the day seemed to not affect my sleep in a negative manner. I also am wondering when (out on fmla due to insomnia from hell and the wondrous doctors adding pill after pill to the mix -which made things so much more fun with the side effects that came w/them) I go back to work, how to incorporate exercise earlier into a work routine of 8:30-5:30 (which tack on another hr each way for traffic in this town). I have tried on and off to do yoga and enjoyed the class but it was a mad rush to get home, let the dog out, gobble leftovers, make a 7:00 class that got out at 8:30 and then back home at 9. The yoga did seem to help (certain teachers) but the constant rush of it all working full time makes me wonder how to do this.
    Anyway, right now I just want to function again w/out being a zombified mess. Still, I do miss feeling fit and going to the gym – though right now, that is at the least of my worries (need to get sleep back on track and then hope to maintain that and a stressful job – but one thing at a time I suppose).

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    I just started this course today. I have had a difficult sleeping as long as I can remember (my mother references it even as a baby and as a child). However, when I started college it got especially worse, and even worse when the stresses of life piled on more with family illnesses, work, etc. Now, as a graduate student, i have been on sleeping pills of many kinds for several years (mainly ambien). I find that their results have been inconsistent.

    As far as exercise goes, I haven't noticed that I can fall asleep more easily, but working out in the morning (mostly running and yoga) makes me more physically tired by night time. However, actually getting myself up and in the mindset in the morning is the hardest part when that is usually the time I sleep best. I am not giving up working out while I train for this program because working out helps a ton with the depression that accompanies poor sleep. I always do it in the evening out of habit because my sleep doctor told me that it was better to do something to ease my mind rather than hate my life and pursue negative thoughts while laying in bed. I'm guessing that probably wasn't the best advice, but I can work out for hours at night. While it doesn't make me tired, it eases my mind. SO I began to love working out at the gym late when nobody was there… So this is a huge struggle for me.

    I also trained for a half marathon earlier this year. I didn't feel that I slept any better, but my overall happiness with myself and life in general was much better. I made myself do it even when I was tired because I had an end goal. I had no choice (in my mind) except to succeed. To try my best.

    I started grad school this May and have tried going on and off of sleeping pills and it made everything extremely difficult. I fell off of my fitness wagon and ate terribly and got very depressed and had a huge increase in anxiety. These are all normal feelings when starting a difficult new chapter in life, but just working out the last two weeks has made a huge difference in my overall well-being and happiness. I now decided I will be doing another half marathon in Feb. to help motivate myself. I hope to use this program to help figure out when the best time to fit in training would be and if there are times when you should give yourself a break. I fear the downward spiral of stopping, so I try my best to keep going. Anyone else relate to the struggling? Anyone else have any tips? What works for you?

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Hi brenna_a_p,

    Welcome to Sleepio and thanks for sharing your story with us. You have a lot going on and I am pretty hopeful you will see results with this program.

    When to exercise and being consistent with it are struggles for many and yet you seem to be well on your way with training for your next marathon (good luck!). You say you have gotten into a habit of exercising at night rather than thinking negative thoughts and that when you set a goal, that really helps. So, how about setting yourself a goal to exercise in the morning (you say that helps you to feel more tired at night) and instead of exercising at night, use the thought checker for those negative thoughts and try progressive relaxation to help get your body and mind into sleep mode? Both of those will be covered in week 2. In the meantime, there is a great free sleep meditation download on gersomeheadspace.com I remember using that many times in the beginning of this program and found it really helped me.

    I hope this information is helpful. Please don't hesitate to post again on any of the threads if you have more questions or concerns.

    Take care,
    anniem

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Hi Brenna, Since I wrote the previous post (back in November), I have gotten back into the gym. For the past two months or so I have been doing a Goldsfit class (don't know if you have Golds gym where you live but it is their version of the Crossfit classes). I was unable to do this when I was getting hardly any sleep but since my sleep has improved (still working on getting where I want to be though) I am able to do this again. I have noticed a huge difference in my mood because of this. I have been working out at 7pm on weekdays because of my work schedule and an hour long commute (8:30-5:30 + commute each way). I agree that working out in the morning is best but I simply am not at a point to wake up that early (not to mention, working out that early). I know there are times that the 7-8 class affects my wind down but I think their are time it helps as well. This class in particular, since it is different every single class and due to the semi-competitive nature of it – tends to keep me in the moment for the bulk of class, and that in itself, is magical for me. It has helped my body image, attitude, and energy levels. Perhaps you could just try to do it not so late, if early mornings are too much like complete torture at the moment (which is my case). Although, I do agree w/Anniem that mornings are better and if you can change your habits w/that, is probably the best route. There is a morning class at 6:30 that I could go to but the thought of working out that early still overwhelms me and then all the extra pressure on waking up even earlier sets in. I keep telling myself one of these days I'd try it. That it is simply a matter of changing your habits. If you can get a rhythm going w/it let me know as I should do the same w/the am classes. Best of luck!

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    My advice is firstly don't do it in the evening as it charges you up. Seconly maybe adjust your schedule as you might be overdoing it. I find short workouts and plenty of rest is best. Thirdly maybe supplement with magnesium? Supposed to help with sleep and muscle building. And finally balance your hardcore exercise program with a softy one, eg. do something to unwind your body and mind so that you're not in fight/flight mode all the time.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Hello
    I've just started the Sleepio programme and have a question regarding exercise please
    I do Pilates and Zumba every week , both of which are morning classes so I don't think they affect my sleep much – other than to make me feel more tired when I go to bed
    My problem is that I've been taking a weekly evening ballroom/Latin American dance class for about 8 years, which I love This means I don't get home until after 10pm and, after having a drink of camomile tea, I go straight to bed, and always sleep really badly
    I don't want to give up my passion, so do I just have to accept that Wednesday's will always be a bad night, or is should I be staying up much later that night ? I don't want to be too late as I'm up early for Zumba the next day

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Hi everyone. Can anyone help me with my issue of exercise? I don't know what exercise I can do as I have arthritic knees and hands as well as degeneration of the discs in my lower back (I have to use a walking stick to get around) . I am in constant pain and mobility is very restricted. Any advice would be appreciated .
    Regards
    Cwmfelinfach

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    I'm about 3 months into Sleepio, and have found regular exercise to be incredibly important. I try and swim, walk, cycle or run 5 days a week, even if only briefly.

    I generally sleep better when I exercise, and it always helps my mood, especially on days when I'm really struggling after a dreadful night. For all of us, the thought of exercising after only a couple of hour's sleep is really tough, but in my experience it's always worth doing.

    I've heard lots of different advice about exercising late in the day. Most people think it's too stimulating, but some find that exercising in the late afternoon or early evening really helps their sleep.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    I have done an exercise experiment. Usually I exercise hard for 45 minutes at 1 pm, after lunch. I have been away from home, in a very hot climate, and the ONLY time I could exercise was 6-7 am. I go out for 30 minutes of hard walking. My sleep has improved tremendously, I would say, miraculously. The hardest thing is rolling out of bed, but once I'm up I look forward to it. Perhaps changing the time of your exercise would help. If I exercise late afternoon through evening, it's like getting a second wind – rotten for sleep. I thought 1 pm was early enough, but not I'm not so sure.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Session 2

    I find the comments here to be strangely interesting because regardless of the issues I might have in sleeping, there is more to my life than sleeping itself. I fell into the reasoning that if I am not sleeping well, if I am feeling mentally and physically deflated then (surely) exercising would add yet another strain upon my body. It wasn't until Monday gone that I actually ran it through my head that (just as surely) exercise is important.

    I used a treadmill 5 days per week prior to finding myself now struggling more than ever to get to sleep, which started back in February. I don't run on the treadmill, but instead I speed-walk and compete with myself to see how quickly I can cover 3 miles in less than one hour. I get competitive with myself, either trying to cut seconds off my 'all time best', or, even try to get as far as 4 miles. But even on those days before insomnia took its grip on me, it was challenging. And so I found myself stopped from this exercise for months … and only the other day tried to bring reasoning to the forefront of my mind.

    And so yesterday, out came the treadmill and I 'went for gold'. I must say that I found it gruelling, after months of not using it, whilst at the same time I felt I had done something that I can declare to be positive. Lack of sleep robs us all (to a greater or lesser degree) and it's taken months for me consider how lack of sleep itself is robbing me of exercising; doing something I enjoy to do and feel is important. Maybe I should break myself in more slowly, maybe I shouldn't immediately go for the targets I used to achieve after months of time out. But in any case., I think there's much to be said about LACK of exercise.

    I'm not a doctor, neither an athlete but from a logical standpoint I don't see any issue with exercise, as a routine, should be totally withdrawn. It's my personal opinion, of course, but what I can say is that Yesterday I worked up a sweat, completed 3 miles in 47min and 25seconds with my rather short legs. I sweat buckets, I needed a shower (of course) and last night had a better night's sleep than I've had in a while; it wasn't perfect (by a long way) but still … it was better.

    I think it's time to get back into the swing of exercise. I think it's time to move the obvious dust off my treadmill that's been attracted to it and once again be wholeheartedly back into the routine.

    :)

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Hello Frank,

    I'm very interested in what you say about exercise, and would like to know how you perceive the effects of exercise on your sleep.

    I came across some research that said that exercise affects good and poor sleepers differently. If a good sleeper exercises a lot they sleep well that night. If a poor sleeper exercises a lot, they must do so regularly to achieve a benefit to their sleep. The study said it took 3 -4 months for the sleep of insomniacs to improve, but after this time their average sleep had increased by one hour.

    Many people find that if they exercise too late (after about 6pm) it stimulates them and prevents good sleep.

    I've been exercising more over the last few weeks too. I also exercise on a treadmill for 1 hour walking a day, and I do an hour a day in the garden too….chopping wood or digging. It's difficult to separate out the effect of exercise on my sleep from the effect of other interventions, however my sleep has definitely improved over the time in which I've been exercising more.

    For me, I do everything I can to improve my sleep in the hope that some things will “stick” and give improvement in my sleep. I hope it works for you too!

    All the best, Doodle.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    So true what you say about exercise, Frank! I would be lost without it, although I will add that I have changed my routine somewhat recently. I used to work out on the treadmill 5-6 days a week for an hour at 3.5 MPH, plus walk my dog either half an hour (if it was my husband's turn for the main walk) or an hour and a half (if it was my turn). These days I do three days a week on the treadmill (3 miles at 4MPH, on a 6 percent incline), walk the dog on the usual schedule, and take a yoga class 1-3 times a week on days when I don't do the treadmill. I find that the various changes in the exercise pattern help not just with general fitness but also with interest, mood, and (most definitely) flexibility and endurance. If I stop exercising for even a few days (unless I'm sick) my sleep goes kahflooey. Keep sweating those buckets! We all have to find what works best for us as we move through the rigors of Sleepio and beyond! Best of luck to you.

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Session 2

    Hello Doodle :)

    My perception is that I'm losing out on fitness as well as the issues of not sleeping well; putting the two together is, in a sense, bleeding a negative into what is already a bad situation. I consider losing the opportunity to exercise as additional stress simply because I enjoy exercising; BTW, treadmill is my only way of exercising due to my situation. Still, I get pleasure from doing it.

    In honesty, my only perception of effects of exercising with insomnia on my tail is that when I stopped exercising it wasn't because it had ill effects. More that it was in me thinking that I could be causing myself harm; in effect, trying to ensure I do things 'correctly'.

    Assuming that the mental issues of struggling to sleep then a withdrawal from exercise seems not to be logical (for want of a better example)

    What I will do is take note of any benefits that might follow as I go along. I don't say this is a way to beat Insomnia; apart from not thinking this is the case I believe that for all that Insomnia can take away from a person's way of life I don't see it as the necessity to do so because of Insomnia.

    Maybe it's a mixture of things we do with/in our lives which comes together to make us who we are, and how the likes of Insomnia (as one instance) effects us all in many and varied ways. It's good to think that you have positive vibes about physical activities having a positive effect and a aid in moving forwards.

    All the very best to you, Doodle. I'm not sure I've been clear enough but thanks for your response

    :)

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Hello Frank,

    What you say about stopping exercise and the way insomnia make you feel strikes a real chord with me. I think it was in the same study, where they said that in the long run exercise helped insomniacs, but that the insomnia was much more likely to leave people giving up exercise because they were so tired. It advised trying to exercise as much as we could because it would eventually have a good effect.

    When my insomnia was terrible I gradually gave up exercise. When it became even worse and I became desperate I actually started up again…just 5 minutes at a time, 5 times a day….somehow it helped motivate me a bit, just by getting me out of the chair, and from there things gradually turned around.

    I love the treadmill because it's a controlled environment, where, like you I can pit myself against myself. I'm currently trying to build up my speed a bit. Also I'm doing a virtual walking tour of Scotland (where I live now). I work out how many miles it is between one county town and the next and then when I've covered the distance I celebrate reaching another place. I know it sounds nuts, but when I couldn't get out much it was a real motivator. It also gave me something to talk to my very elderly parents about in a letter, instead of going on about insomnia. As I reach each new town I draw a map (thank you Google), write a bit about the history of the town (than you Wikipedia) and buy them a “souvenir”; something cheap and cheerful (thank you eBay).

    Now that my sleep has improved I also try to go outside more. The quality of my sleep after being outside is, I think, improved….I guess it's the light giving my circadian rhythms a reset.

    You mention that exercise isn't the way to beat insomnia, and I'm sure you're right, but it's a tool to use. In fact I'm confident you will find the way to beat insomnia when you get to week 3. Then the Prof will introduce you to sleep restriction (SR) and the quarter hour rule (QHR). These will demand all the grit and determination you can muster to get through, but they're the core of Sleepio, and they will gradually rewire your brain for sleep. Think how wonderful that will be,

    All the best on your Sleepio quest,

    May Morpheus be with you,

    Doodle

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Session 2

    [Quote] Also I'm doing a virtual walking tour of Scotland (where I live now). I work out how many miles it is between one county town and the next and then when I've covered the distance I celebrate reaching another place. I know it sounds nuts, but when I couldn't get out much it was a real motivator.'

    How strange that I was thinking the very same … lol. I was thinking that it's 90 miles to Wales from where I life and I could work out the few miles I speed-walk and do exactly as you say. :)

    I'm ready for what comes; call me confident, but I don't suggest things will be easy (per se) and I'm thinking along the lines that if it was there would be no need for such a place as this. Clearly, there is a need.

    Thank you so much for your comment :)

    F

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Session 2

    [Quote] 'These days I do three days a week on the treadmill (3 miles at 4MPH, on a 6 percent incline), walk the dog on the usual schedule, and take a yoga class 1-3 times a week on days when I don't do the treadmill. I find that the various changes in the exercise pattern

    I think you do very well. I'd love to be out more but my circumstances don't allow me to do so. It's good to have varied platforms on which to exercise but I do OK with what I have. Now … all I have to do is get back to a routine, which took me ages to do, so that I can go back to a fully fledged effort.

    Thank you so much for your comment :)

    -F-

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    Hi frank, that's great you're working toward a routine--routine seems to be important for so many things, doesn't it? I wish you the best of luck in your exercise routine and your sleep routine!!

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    I'm simply trying the Active10 that they are advertising on the TV and have downloaded the app. initially starting at the 10 minutes and now moving onto 20 but I find the discipline of doing this beneficial – as yet no affect on my sleep.

  • Sleepio Member

    • 6 comments
    • 0 helped
    Graduate

    I'm simply trying the Active10 that they are advertising on the TV and have downloaded the app. initially starting at the 10 minutes and now moving onto 20 but I find the discipline of doing this beneficial – as yet no affect on my sleep.

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