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These 5 sports help you fall asleep better

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  • Which sports help you fall asleep?
  • What helps if I still can't sleep well?
  • Why do intense workouts hinder sleep?

In these restless, crisis-ridden times, many people find it difficult to fall asleep in the evening. Until now, exercise has not been one of the recommendations for falling asleep; on the contrary, it has long been believed that exercise in the evening has a negative effect on the speed at which people fall asleep and the quality of their sleep. But new studies differentiate: it depends on the type of training. You can find out here how you can train cleverly in the evening and which sports can help you fall asleep faster and sleep well through the night.

Which sports help you fall asleep?

These 5 sports help you calm down in the evening and improve your sleep quality:

1. Yoga

Yoga can help you relax physically and mentally after a grueling day, and it can help you relax and sleep better, especially in the evenings.

This is because when you do yoga, you breathe slowly and in a controlled manner, which has been shown to stimulate the vagus nerve. This is also known as the resting nerve and influences the parasympathetic nervous system, which ensures physical relaxation and allows you to switch off more easily. Yoga also lowers the heart rate and improves digestion, both of which contribute to sleeping through the night.

All you need is a yoga mat and a quiet space in your home, preferably not your bedroom. Practice for 30 minutes, about an hour before you plan to go to bed. You can find exercises on YouTube, for example.

Breathing is very important: if possible, only breathe through your nose and deep into your stomach, whereby the exhalation should always be longer than the inhalation. In this way, your nervous system calms down, your blood pressure drops and you then find it easier to fall asleep.

2. Go for a walk

The colder and more uncomfortable it gets outside, the more people barricade themselves in their homes. Not a good idea. Walks help you sleep better later in many ways. Because running has been proven to correlate with better sleep. The body's stress level decreases and mental resilience increases. Fears and worries are relieved while running and clear your mind before bedtime.

In addition, walks in the fresh air strengthen the immune system and prevent high blood pressure. And the healthier your body is, the better your sleep is.

It's best to take a brisk, but not strenuous, 30-minute walk 1 to 2 hours before bed. Rule of thumb: You should still be able to hold a conversation.

If it's too cold for you, put hand warmers in your jacket pockets and then warm yourself with a chamomile tea. The antioxidants it contains have a calming effect and can also help you sleep better, studies show.

3. Cycling

Your health benefits in several ways from a leisurely 20 to 30 minute bike ride after work: you burn calories and excess energy so that your night can be calm and relaxed. Your respiratory system also benefits from exercise in the fresh air.

It's best to look for a quiet route away from hectic traffic where you can let your eyes wander into the distance. In this way, your psyche will also find relaxation and peace, which is conducive to a good night's sleep. During the dark season, make sure your bike lights are working and you are wearing reflective clothing.

4. Swimming

When swimming in the evening, you can work off tension and excess energy through the water resistance and ensure a physical feeling of well-being. But don't overdo it with the intensity, otherwise your cortisol levels will increase, which puts your body under stress and wakes you up. Therefore, carefully observe your body to see how it reacts to the stress.

If you find the right intensity for you, swimming is an ideal sport: Especially if you are exposed to strong psychological pressure at work or studying combined with long hours of desk work, swimming will help you reduce stress and feel better about your body. All of this has a calming effect on the body and soul and consequently ensures better sleep.

To achieve this, it is best to go to the swimming pool in the evening, at least 2 to 3 hours before you want to sleep, and swim for about 30 minutes. Choose an easy stroke, breaststroke or backstroke, and then take a warm shower. The warm water dilates the blood vessels and thus contributes to relaxation.

But be careful: After swimming, some people become very hungry and tend to eat a lot. You should avoid this: Intensive digestive work in the gastrointestinal tract hinders both falling asleep and staying asleep.

5. Aerobic

A recent study with 760 college students describes a clearly positive influence of moderate aerobic exercise on sleep quality. Sports in which the students trained in the aerobic range and took more than 6,000 steps were correlated with sleep quality. The sports varied from ball games, gymnastics, cycling and moderate endurance running.

You can also take advantage of this by regularly doing endurance sports in a low pulse range of 70 to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate. However, you should finish these more intense workouts about 3 hours before bedtime. Here too, a warm shower with relaxing shower gel aromas such as lavender helps.

What helps if I still can't sleep well?

Be patient and vary your training. Every body reacts differently. Success also depends on how well you are already trained and what activity you do during the day. Vary your training if it doesn't show results. By sometimes extending and sometimes shortening the training time. And you can also increase the intensity by doing the sport that you should enjoy a little more or less intensively.

But stick with it! Studies show that not only acute but also chronic sleep problems are positively influenced by regular, moderate physical activity before going to bed.

Why do intense workouts hinder sleep?

You should have completed cardio training in the anaerobic range and also strength training sessions by 4 p.m. at the latest. When you train intensively, you release the stress hormone adrenaline, which increases blood pressure and heart rate. The body temperature also rises in the long term, which hinders the process of falling asleep, during which the body temperature naturally drops by around 1 degree. Under these parameters, falling asleep relaxed in the next few hours is not possible and is even counterproductive.

Not doing any exercise in the evening in order to sleep better is outdated. Numerous studies show that those who do moderate exercise in the evening fall asleep more easily and stay asleep. Whether it's yoga, a brisk walk or an evening bike ride – try out what works best for you.

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