An image of can lifting weights promote better sleep.

Can Lifting Weights Promote Better Sleep?

Good night’s sleep is of utmost importance for our overall well-being. But it is not always easy to fall asleep and not wake up for 7 or 8 hours. Nearly a third of UK adults suffer from insomnia or some other sleep disorder. There are many factors that cause insomnia, and lack of physical activity is certainly one of the main ones.

If, after waking up, you sit in the car to drive to the office, and then return home in the same way after work and watch TV until you go to bed again, you were practically not physically active that day at all. And you will probably start to have trouble falling asleep over time. 

It is therefore recommended that you walk and be physically active on a daily basis. However, this is only one part of the equation, while weightlifting is the other part of the equation.

What is the initial link between strength and sleep?

It is easy to link physical activity and a better night’s sleeper. Just remember the last time you ran a treadmill or spent all day hiking. You probably slept like a baby that night. So-called cardio exercises are definitely great for both your health and sleep. Cardio exercises include running, swimming, jogging and many similar activities.

An image of a muscular man with tatooes lifting weights.

But that is not enough. A few months ago, a study was presented at the American Heart Association (AHA) conference. That comprehensive study, which involved a large number of people and lasted a long time, confirmed something that experts had been guessing for some time. Strength training is an equally important part of the exercise routine. Many are reluctant to include strength training in their workout routine. They find this type of training too strenuous. Also, many people are afraid that they will look like professional bodybuilders, although this fear is of course not justified because bodybuilders dedicate their entire lives to this goal.

An aforementioned study found that those who do strength training sleep 20 minutes longer than those who choose only cardio exercises. A particularly interesting fact obtained during this study is that those who only did strength training slept best, even better than those who combined different types of training. There are several logical explanations for why this is so. Strength training is very physically demanding and then the body’s natural response is to make you feel sleepy. Also, strength training consumes significantly more oxygen compared to running, which is another reason why you will sleep. Another thing the body needs to do after training is to replenish adenosine triphosphate (ATP) reserves.

Adding a resistance to exercise

Don’t get us wrong, cardio exercises are certainly very beneficial for sleep, but if you add a resistance to exercise you will see even greater improvement. It is up to you to decide when you want to do it. Once you decide to add a resistance to exercise you need to do it gradually. First of all, you should know that you should not double the time you spend exercising. Replace cardio with strength training two or three times a week.

An image of a man holding weights in left hand.

It is not necessary for this type of training to last longer than an hour, and it is optimally about 45 minutes. In the beginning you can start with bodyweight exercise. Some of the most popular bodyweight exercises are squats, pushups, planks, dips and crunches. There are many more. These are ideal exercises for all beginners because the risk of injury is small and will also build basic strength. After a few months, it is advisable to include weights.

Weights will give you new opportunities, and that is to further improve your fitness. Weight lifting not only brings bigger muscle and strength, but also improves fitness as well, perhaps even better than running. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) with weights is becoming increasingly popular, as it combines two different types of training. It is certain that you will notice that your night’s sleep is getting better and better, and those who suffer from insomnia will notice that it is less and less sleepless nights. The same goes for the obese, as weightlifting is the most effective fat burning method.

When is the right time to do resistance exercises without compromising sleep?

Anything can do more harm than good if we don’t follow certain rules. Resistance training can also negatively affect night’s sleep if you schedule it too close to bedtime. During training, your heart rate increases, as well as your body temperature, and your body needs a cool down period to be able to fall asleep.

An image of a male without shirt holding dumbbells.

So make sure you schedule your workout no later than 2 hours before bedtime, and ideally it should be in the middle of the day. This is important not only because of the night’s sleep, but because of the diet too. You should have a meal before training and at least one meal after, in order to have enough energy and to feed the body with the necessary nutrients.

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