Sleep—we crave it and we need it, but we never seem to get enough of it. A new Consumer Reports survey of 4023 adults found that 27% of Americans suffer from insomnia while 68%—the equivalent of 164 million people—struggle with sleep at least once a week. These are sobering statistics, which is why we’re dedicating the next few days to this ever-elusive, never-can-have-enough part of our lives. Welcome to Byrdie’s first-ever Sleep Week, wherein you can expect detailed accounts of our own editors’ sleep trials and tribulations, the latest products to help you nod off, and all the new relevant research. Suffice to say, we’re obsessed with getting more shut-eye (and the quality kind, too), and hopefully our obsession will ensure you wake up more mornings feeling well rested and less like you want to hurl your alarm clock across the room. Read (and rest) up!
You’ve probably read that decreasing the amount of coffee you drink in a day or taking your eyes off your phone or tablet will help you sleep better at night. But let’s get real—cutting out our vices isn’t all that easy. Can you imagine a day without caffeine? Neither can we.
Instead of cutting out some of our favorite things, we thought we would be more successful sleepers if we added exercise to our everyday routine. After all, it’s something we strive to do on the regular, and according to Heather Peterson, CorePower Yoga’s chief yoga officer, “Exercise has short- and long-term sleep benefits” like “falling asleep faster, staying asleep longer, and being less fatigued during the day.” In order to figure out what forms of exercise would help us achieve a good night’s rest, we asked Peterson for her expert opinion on workouts and at-home exercises that would help us sleep more soundly. Keep reading for Peterson’s workout recommendations.
1. Core Power Yoga
Yoga has many health benefits, such as increased flexibility and improved energy, and now you can add one more, as Peterson told Byrdie, “Yoga creates strength and flexibility in muscles, which can help your body relax more quickly and help you stay asleep longer.”
Have you ever been so tired from a workout that you fell asleep shortly after? HIIT, aka high-intensity interval training, will do just that. So says Peterson, who told Byrdie that HIIT is a “kicking workout that helps you feel tired enough to sleep.”
3. Strength Training
How exactly can strength training help you sleep better, besides the obvious exhaustion and muscle fatigue that comes with lifting weights? According to Peterson, “building lean muscle mass helps with metabolism and heat regulation,” which she says “can help keep you sleeping longer.”
Peterson recommends running and/or walking as they are both linked "to better sleep, as well as all the other benefits of cardiovascular health." She adds that doing these activities in nature provides the extra benefits of "reducing stress and better sleep."
5. Restorative Yoga Poses
Peterson notes that restorative yoga is “not a workout in the way the above practices are, but this practice helps you calm your nervous system and deepen your breath, which can be vital to balance the physical practices/workouts and daily demands of our lives.” She suggests starting or ending your day “with a short home restorative yoga practice.”
For all you yogis out there, Peterson recommends Child’s Pose/Balasana for two minutes, Child’s Pose variation in which you “turn you head to one side for one minute then switch to look the other way to balance out your neck,” Reclined Bound Angle Pose/Supta Baddha Konasana for two minutes, and Legs Up the Wall/Viparita Karina for three minutes.
Want to better your sleep by working out more? Check out this yoga sequence that will make you fall asleep in 10 minutes.