Most people know that if you want to get better sleep, making exercise a priority is a great place to start. But while many people think running, biking and other forms of cardio are the key to catching more high-quality Zzz’s, it turns out there’s another type of workout that may be the key to better sleep — and that’s resistance training.
Let’s take a look at how resistance training affects sleep—and how to lift your way to a restful night.
How does resistance training promote better sleep?
Before the former. How, exactly, does resistance training affect sleep—and how can weight lifting and other forms of resistance training help you get better rest?
“This type of workout…is associated with improved overall sleep quality and increased sleep duration,” says Alex Savy, certified sleep science instructor and founder of SleepingOcean.com.
There is research to back that up. In a recent study, researchers at Iowa State University studied the effects of both resistance training and aerobic exercise on participants over the course of a year. Among participants who reported getting less than 7 hours of sleep per night at the start of the study, participants who engaged in regular resistance training increased their sleep duration by 40 minutes over the course of the study—almost twice as much. group (which increased their sleep duration by 23 minutes).
In addition to increased sleep duration, the resistance training group experienced better sleep quality, including falling more easily and being able to stay asleep.
There’s also research that suggests that “moderate-intensity resistance training can help chronic insomniacs sleep better,” Savi says.
Why does resistance training help you get better sleep?
Obviously, resistance training can help you sleep better. But the question is – why? “Sleep is a necessary part of muscle recovery, so a more taxing workout encourages your body to sleep deeper and longer throughout the night,” says Dr. Grant Radermacher, sports chiropractor at Ascent Chiropractic in Brookfield, WI.
Resistance training can help your body produce more sleep-supporting chemicals—which can make it easier to fall asleep. “Studies show that resistance training often increases adenosine production,” says Savy. “This chemical causes a drowsy feeling that often helps people fall asleep more easily and enjoy a deeper, more restorative rest. Therefore, a post-workout adenosine boost may help people prevent sleep disturbances and drift off more easily, potentially sleeping more hours.”
Tips for using resistance training to get better sleep
Want to use resistance training to get better sleep? Here are some tips to help you get to high-quality Zzz’s (and all the benefits that come with it).
Start slow. Now that you know the sleep-enhancing benefits of resistance training, you might be tempted to jump right in and start lifting heavy weights. But if you’re new to resistance training, the best approach is to start slow. “Start slow, add weight gradually, and focus on proper form,” Radermacher says. “[By taking this approach]You’ll reduce your risk of injury and be less likely to suffer from the delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) that most new lifters deal with.”
Do not work too close to bedtime. Resistance training can help you get better sleep—but if you work out too close to bedtime, it can actually have the opposite effect. “Resistance exercise can raise heart rate and body temperature too late in the day in a way that disrupts sleep,” says Radermacher. “Leave at least two hours after exercise to allow your body to wind down before bed.”
Don’t skip cardio. Just because resistance training can be a good exercise for improved sleep doesn’t mean you should completely abandon your morning run or weekly bike ride! Cardio does everything from reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes to improved mood – to promoting optimal sleep And For overall health, consider both cardio and resistance training a fundamental part of your fitness routine.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, changing your sleeping habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.