You know the feeling. You wake up groggy, your mind full of cobwebs, and with a desire to pull the covers back over your head rather than jump out of bed with enthusiasm to start the day. We’ve all been there. We know that many—heck, most—of us are sleep deprived and running on fumes. But that doesn’t have to be your norm.
Research is showing just how beneficial walking is to help you get a good night’s sleep, and how, in turn, you can experience mental and physical benefits like a boost in your mood, improved health, lower weight, and better brain function.
A study published in Sleep Health found that walking positively affected participants, especially women, almost immediately. Participants who took more steps during the month-long study reported significantly better sleep than those who took fewer steps. And those study participants who were already getting the recommended hours of sleep found their quality of sleep improved on days they walked more than they typically had.
According to research reported by Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep, there is solid evidence that exercise does, in fact, help you fall asleep more quickly and improve sleep quality. In fact, the research shows that 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise—like walking—can improve the quality of that night’s sleep.
Why does walking have such a significant impact on sleep? Researchers aren’t 100% certain, but believe it might start with the signals your brain is sent when walking. First, the mental aspect. Walking is proven to lower the feelings of anxiety and depression, to boost your mood, and just make you happier. Shutting down for the night with a calm and contented mind certainly makes it easier to fall and stay asleep.
Moreover, regular walking helps your body know when it’s time to be active, and when it's time to settle in for rest. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the rise in body temperature when you walk sends a signal to your brain to decrease your body temperature later in the day, promoting sleep. In fact, this article from SleepFoundation.org says that moderate-intensity aerobic exercise (e.g. walking) reduced the time it took to fall asleep and increased the length of sleep of people with chronic insomnia compared to a night in which they did not exercise.
Now when’s the best time to get in that walk to help with sleep? It depends on your body and how long it takes for it to cool down, though the recommendation is no less than two hours before you plan to climb into bed. So pay attention to how your body and mind respond on days when you do have more physical activity.
Want to get a better night’s sleep? Grab your Jetti Poles and go take a walk. Your mind and body will thank you, and not only will you sleep better, you just might find yourself feeling more energetic and rejuvenated to crush your goals.