Having trouble sleeping? Get fit for bed with 4 simple tips

Having trouble sleeping? This young woman is exercising to help her sleep better at night.
Unable to sleep at night? Let's look at how physical activity can help you overcome your sleep troubles.

I have had my bouts against problems with sleeping.

There are nights where to no end, I helplessly tumble and turn in bed as I try out every possible position just to fall asleep.

I would try putting the pillow on top of my head, or beneath my legs, or on my side, hoping to find the sweet spot for sleep. There are also times when I just suddenly wake up in the middle of the night.

Most of those times, anxieties would also rush in. Am I hearing things? Did someone just knock?

These are some thoughts I deal with when I wake up in the middle of my sleep. I usually end up waiting for a dragging two or three hours before I can sleep again. In those nights, I feel robbed.

On some days, I wake up too early – knowing full well that I am sleep deprived but also knowing that I would be unable to sleep anymore as worries of the coming day rush in.

I end up checking my social media accounts, messages and emails, and worrying about school, work and the day’s deadlines.

Will I be able to meet them today? Should I start working this early?

Do all these sound familiar to you? We are not alone. Studies show that 10 million Filipinos suffer from insomnia – a disorder which causes problems with sleeping.

Globally, the numbers are higher. Six out of ten adults face troubles with sleeping.

But what causes our problems with sleeping? The list is long, according to experts. The causes of our problems with sleeping span from existing medical conditions to daily habits and lifestyle.

A night of binge drinking and smoking, for example, messes up our quality of sleep. I’m pretty sure the feeling the next morning is all too familiar.

Changes in environment and surroundings also cause or contribute to our problems with sleeping. The Pandemic is a classic example. You’ve probably battled against sleep troubles these past few months.

Your troubles with sleeping may have been caused by the lockdowns and quarantine which disrupted our daily schedules and structures. But among the several causes listed by experts and researchers which cause our troubles with sleeping, our anxiety, depression and lack of regular exercise are arguably the most common.

But I think we may have a solution.

Get moving! Physical activity is one simple and scientifically proven remedy against our problems with sleeping.

“Physical exercise, scheduled in the afternoon but not close to bedtime, is one of the best ways to deal with insomnia. Exercise and relaxation can help in warding off insomnia,” writes Dr. Phillip S. Chua, a Filipino veteran physician based in Northwest Indiana.

Research shows that physical activity may aid our depression and anxieties. Since anxiety and depression are among those which cause our problems with sleeping, stimulus which helps relieve them, such as physical activity, also addresses our troubles with sleeping.

But what physical activity do we need against our troubles with sleeping? Furthermore, how do we do it?

Just look around the corner

Close-up image of a person's shoes, about to go for a run to sleep easier at night

Contrary to popular belief, we do not need a loaded gym or a topnotch athletic facility to perform activities which will address our troubles with sleeping.

We are not training for the Olympics or for a world championship match! The activities we need are just around the corner.

Experts recommend moderate to vigorous aerobic exercises for our problems with sleeping.

These exercises include our daily tasks such as brisk walking, doing household work, walking our pets, and tending to our plants. All of which are classified as moderate.

Our other activities like running, playing competitive sports, and fast cycling or swimming, are classified as vigorous activities which can also remedy our problems with sleeping.

Spare a few minutes

Closeup image of a guy with sleep troubles, concentrating while exercising

Admittedly, someone who already has a packed day will find it difficult to insert an hour or two of physical activity.

Even today, this is still true among us who, despite the prevalence of work-from-home arrangements, are actually exposed to more stress.

But to address our problems with sleeping, we just have to spare a few minutes! Experts claim that 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise a day is enough to address our problems with sleeping.

Others even argue that we do not need that much. Clocking in 150 minutes a week or around 21 minutes a day would be enough to address our problems with sleeping.

Schedule your workout

A digital clock, to symbolize that working out must be part of our daily routine

While physical activity may ease our troubles of sleeping at night, it is a double-edged sword which can aggravate our sleep troubles.

The recommendation is that physical activity is done an hour or two before bedtime.

Exercise has the effect of raising the body’s core temperature which is a signal for our body clock to be awake.

If exercise is too close to bedtime, it may take us more time to fall sleep because of our elevated body temperature. This is why it is important that we exercise at least an hour or two before bedtime.

This time interval allows our body to cool down without losing the benefits of exercise which will ease our problems with sleeping.

Choose an activity you like and enjoy

Mother and daughter smilingly doing stretches

It is important that we find a physical activity that we like and enjoy. Doing so will make it easier for us to be consistent.

Furthermore, choosing an activity that you do not enjoy may just cause unnecessary stress which will worsen your problems with sleeping.

Imagine having to force and drag yourself to do something we do not enjoy. Just thinking about it stresses me out already!

So if you love dancing and you’re missing the studio, then learn and bust new moves you can find on the internet! If you are a basketball player itching to get back on the court, work on your ball handling in the garage.

By doing these activities you enjoy, you address your problems with sleeping. At the same time, you have something new to show for once you return to the court or studio!

While our problems with sleeping are due to different causes, some of the remedies are just around the corner.

We just need to spare a few minutes and make some minor tweaks in our lifestyle. Now go ahead and choose an activity you like.

Get moving and be fit for bed!

Having trouble sleeping? Share with us below how you deal with it.

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