Federica Molly
Federica Molly

February 20, 2023

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Exercise and sleep: how can exercise affect sleep quality?

How and why physical activity can affect sleep

Insomnia and sleep disorders are very common problems, which can significantly affect the health of the body. Those suffering from insomnia can wake up in the middle of the night or find it hard to fall asleep, or wake up early in the morning and never sleep again. These disorders can be the consequence of particular mental or physical pathological conditions, such as anxiety, stress, health problems, or be caused by bad habits regarding nutrition or physical activity. In particular, the existence of a correlation between exercise and insomnia has been a topic of debate for some time.

Can regular exercise help fight insomnia and help you rest better? According to some studies, the answer is yes! There are many ways that sport can help to improve the quality of rest. So let’s see together how and why physical activity can affect sleep and some useful tips to combat insomnia. 

How exercise and insomnia are related

Data from recent studies have shown that regular physical activity can help to contain or completely eliminate problems related to insomnia or sleep disorders. The practice of a sports activity, in fact, can positively affect not only the body, but also the mind, helping to ward off anxiety, worries and stress. Also according to some studies, exercise would be able to relieve stress through the release of endorphins, thus indirectly counteracting the insomnia caused by these problems. 

Physical activity can also help to restore the natural biological rhythms that regulate the sleep-wake cycle (the so-called circadian rhythm). Some research shows that exercise has an important role in the normalization of the circadian rhythm, thus counteracting insomnia and all the related problems. However, it is important to specify that the effects of physical activity in the management of insomnia may vary depending on the time of the sport and the type and intensity of the exercise. 

Exercise and insomnia: when to do it?

To counteract sleep disorders, it is not enough to exercise regularly: it is essential to do so at the most appropriate times of the day. Exercising in the evening or too close to your bedtime may have the opposite effect and cause insomnia and difficulty sleeping. According to experts this happens because, in addition to promoting good mood and general well-being of the body, endorphins released thanks to physical activity stimulate brain activity, causing people to be more active and alert. Finding the tranquility and serenity necessary to fall asleep immediately after exercising may be more difficult. 


In addition, sport activities cause an increase in body temperature, another factor that can negatively affect rest. After exercise, the body temperature tends to fall only after about 60-90 minutes: practicing exercise late in the evening or in the closing hours of the day may delay the temperature drop necessary to reconcile sleep.

In the evening it is therefore advisable to carry out a relaxed training program or a light physical activity, without reaching high heart rate levels. To combat insomnia and promote rest it might be useful to include in your daily routine a sports discipline such as yoga, which is one of the most suitable activities to relieve the stress accumulated during the day and restore psychophysical well-being. Other disciplines that can help fight insomnia are meditation and pilates, which can help strengthen the body and relax the mind, preparing the body for rest.

Other tips to treat insomnia

In addition to regular physical activity, in order to treat insomnia you will also need to pay special attention to your diet. Following a healthy diet, with balanced nutrients that meet your calorie needs, can certainly help to provide the body with all the energy it needs to function well and promote a more peaceful rest. Try to avoid certain types of foods and drinks that could make your sleep more disturbed, such as fried foods, drinks and foods full of sugar, coffee, tea and energy drinks rich in caffeine, but also alcohol. 

A last useful tip to combat insomnia concerns the choice of the mattress and, in general, the bed system. To ensure a healthy and comfortable rest buy a mattress and a quality bed base which are able to offer adequate support and ensure the best possible rest. The choice of the pillow is also fundamental for a good rest: beyond the specific needs and habits, a good pillow should not be too soft or too rigid, and should fit in a balanced way to the body, properly accepting and supporting head and neck, even in night movements.  

If you need more information or advice on choosing the mattress and sleeping accessories that best suit your needs, contact us or visit us at one of our stores!