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Exercise Early to Get Better Sleep

Exercise Early to Get Better Sleep

If you love waking up with a smile on your face and saying, "Wowie, I just had an amazing night's sleep," here's a great way to get it more often: Exercise early in the day.

That's right. You've probably heard that exercise is important for deeper, more refreshing slumber. Totally true. A workout helps you nod off faster than some sleep drugs do (and it's way healthier!). Fit in some physical activity and you'll also have fewer of those annoying 3 a.m. wake-ups.

Conventional wisdom says that ending a workout 3 hours before bedtime is early enough to let your body and mind settle in for the night. But brain scans (can't argue with those!) show that morning exercise is even better. Compared with midday or early evening workouts, hitting the pavement, the pool, or the bike around 7 a.m. will help you spend 75% more time in deep sleep and let you cycle through the four stages of sleep more often. That's important because you need to hit all the sleep stages several times a night to keep your energy level high, your mind sharp, and your body lookin' good. (Learn more about sleep disorders and how you can fall asleep faster!)

Of course, there's more you can do for stellar slumber. In general, skip meals high in saturated fat meals, but especially at dinner. Avoid alcohol; it may make you feel sleepy at first, but it messes with deep sleep later. (See how sleep can help you lose weight.)

Nix caffeine after noon; keep your sleep zone dark, cool, and comfy; and banish stress boosters from your boudoir (no bill paying, TV watching, or e-mailing while in bed!).

Medically reviewed in June 2019.

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