How to Exercise to Get Better Sleep

Tips for a well-rounded workout routine to help you get a good night’s rest


If you struggle to get good sleep, please know – you’re not alone!

Research shows that 30% of employed adults sleep for 6 hours or less each night and that one-third of all adults routinely report difficulty sleeping.

Poor sleep and chronic sleep disturbances can lead to metabolic dysfunction, mental health problems, heart disease and a shorter life span.

But, thankfully, studies also show that people who exercise for at least 30 minutes a day sleep longer and have more energy and enthusiasm throughout the day.

We all know that getting quality rest is essential for our physical, mental and spiritual well-being. During sleep is when the body recovers and rebuilds.

So, if you spend hours tossing and turning each night, it may be time to revise your daily movement routines as a means to help you get better restful sleep.


How does exercise improve sleep?

Exercise helps prepare our bodies to rest and reset in 3 important ways:


1. Tires out the body

  • The biggest reason that regular exercise improves sleep cycles is because it increases the amount of deep, slow wave sleep by boosting the production of melatonin (the hormone that regulates sleep cycles).

  • Deep sleep also allows the body to release HGH, the human growth hormone, which is essential for burning fat, stimulating bone growth and maintaining a healthy heart.

  • Expending physical energy through exercise increases the body’s need for sleep by increasing pressure on our homeostatic sleep drive.


2. Reduces stress and improves mood

  • Exercise helps to lower cortisol levels related to stress by keeping our blood and fluids moving.

  • The endorphins that make you feel happy, like serotonin, also get released in the brain when we exercise, which means more energy and less anxiety throughout the day.


3. Regulates body temperature

  • Exercise trains the body to heat up and cool down efficiently – which supports healthy metabolism. This helps create smoother transitions in and out of bed.

  • Proper temperature regulation is a vital component of balancing our mental and physical energies. It can improve recovery times and decrease muscle soreness.

  • For many of us, work uses our brains more than our bodies. Our brains use up a lot of our energy and heat. And if we aren’t exercising our bodies too, then our metabolism becomes dysregulated and slows down.


Exercise can help us to create a self-perpetuating positive feedback loop where exercise leads to better sleep so we feel good and want to do it all over again!

The most important part of getting started is figuring out what works best for you.


How to exercise for better sleep

Every body is different, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to figuring out what exercise routine will lead to the best night’s rest.

But, there are building blocks you can use to better understand your body’s natural rhythms and design a movement regimen that works for you.

There are 3 main things to consider when thinking about how to exercise for better sleep:


1. Intensity and the Type of exercise – Endurance vs Strength

  • Research shows that exercising at a consistent, moderate intensity generates the best benefits for our sleep cycles.

  • Intensity looks different for everybody. In order to determine your moderate, here are a few things to consider:

  • Whether you exercise for 5, 15 or 30 minutes, to get the best sleep possible the goal should be to sustain a slightly elevated heart rate, respiratory rate and core body temperature throughout the duration of your workout.

  • Most workouts should be at about 60-70% of perceived exertion. A level where you’re not out of breath but you have to focus on it. It should be slightly difficult to hold a conversation.

Different types of exercise have different benefits, so it helps to be clear about your individual goals when choosing what type of exercise to do.

A well-rounded routine should include both aspects of training; endurance and strength.

  • Aerobic exercises such as cardio (running, swimming, cycling etc.) teach the body endurance and longevity.

  • Anaerobic exercises such as weight training, high intensity interval training, or sprints teach the body strength while increasing bone density and insulin resistance.

In order to maximize the benefits of exercise, get both types of exercise in your weekly routine!


2. Duration of exercise

  • Studies show us that 30 minutes a day of moderate intensity exercise is the sweet spot.

  • Consistency is key. It’s important to find an activity that you are willing to do everyday.


3. Time of Day

  • It’s different for everybody.

  • The general rule is that moderate to intense exercise is best in the early morning or the afternoon.

  • While it may be better to choose something light, like yoga, if you’re going to do something in the evening because it can help you unwind.


Tools to get started 👇🏻

As a holistic fitness trainer, I believe that movement is an essential therapy to help the human psyche manage the stresses of life.

My goal is to help you find practices that work for you. So, if you’re looking for more guidance, here are a few quick practices from my YouTube channel:


Stretching to unwind and gentle yoga:

Foam Roller Routine to Promote Relaxation & Better Sleep

Gentle Yoga ~ The Gift of Relaxation // Perfect evening practice to promote restful sleep

Quick Evening Stretch | Release Tension & Stress Before Bedtime | Hips & Lower Back Relief


Relaxing breathing exercises for insomnia and anxiety:

Relax and Unwind with this 4-7-8 Breathing Technique | Quick 5 Minute Guided Breathwork Practice

Breathing Exercise to Reduce Anxiety & Insomnia // Bhramari Pranayama (aka: Humming Bee Breath)


Yoga nidra and guided relaxation:

11 Minute Guided Yoga Nidra // Calm Your Nervous System

Yoga Nidra to Restore Energy and Vitality | Guided Relaxation Practice | NSDR


Subscribe to my youtube channel and check out my complete Relaxing Nighttime Practices playlist.



Cheers to getting a good night’s rest ✌🏻

jessi rose

Looking for tools to help reduce anxiety, boost inner strength and feel more grounded in your body?

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    Hi, I'm Jessi McMaster!

    holistic health, fitness & yoga coach.

    From traditional strength training to Yoga, from nutrition to sound healing, it is my mission to make the full range of wellness tools accessible for everyone.

    In 2013, I made a transition from the corporate world to running my own health & fitness coaching business.

    Today, I use mindful movement & exercise to not just train people’s bodies, but to enhance their overall experience of life. As a Holistic Health & Fitness Coach, I help people reframe their relationship with health to one that better supports the modern lifestyle.

    I help busy go-getters, entrepreneurs & companies adopt healthier lifestyle choices that fuel creativity, productivity & overall well-being. It’s one thing to “check the fitness box,” but it’s another to do it in a way that keeps you pain-free & motivated!