The secret to a good night’s sleep

The exercise will help create a natural fatigue that will make you want to lie your head down each night, and allow you to sleep soundly.

by Stephanie Froeschle — 

Has tossing and turning through the night become a way of life for you? Do you wander the house at midnight and check the fridge for something sweet? Tried the expensive prescription drugs that leave you feeling hung over or dizzy the next day?

Why not try something new? We’re not talking about an unknown exotic herb with a strange-sounding name from some obscure, little country in the South Pacific, nor a magical potion available only to the rich and famous. This not-so-new way to a restful, peaceful sleep is so simple you will wonder why you never thought of it before. This wondrous sleep miracle is called “exercise.”

A little bit of exercise goes a long way. A 20-minute walk with Fido in the morning will cause a series of events to occur that, when performed regularly, will help you sleep better than you ever have. The exercise will help create a natural fatigue that will make you want to lie your head down each night, and allow you to sleep soundly.

Another nice side feature is that the exercise will help you maintain — and even lose — weight. Statistics have shown that women who sleep less than seven hours a night have trouble losing weight and are generally beyond their ideal weight range.

You will not have to join a gym, buy equipment (other than some good walking shoes) or shell out a large sum of money. Just put those shoes on, get out the door and walk continuously for 20 to 30 minutes a day. Try to walk at a pace that keeps you slightly breathless, but still able to carry on a conversation. Be consistent. If you miss a day, you might find yourself having trouble sleeping that night.

Other pleasant side effects of exercise may include feeling less depressed and experiencing a decrease in your cravings for sweets. Exercise helps keep blood glucose levels more even, using up stored fat for energy and promoting the deeper REM sleep that makes the body feel refreshed, rather than groggy, in the morning. The time used for exercise also results in a clearer mind — some proponents believe their best ideas often come during a morning walk.

Not everyone can be a long distance runner, a gym fanatic or a swimmer. Just put on those shoes and walk out the door each day. You will do yourself a world of good and you will sleep soundly at night.

 

Stephanie Froeschle, R.D., has been a registered dietitian for over 25 years, has a master’s degree in counseling/human relations and has done professional writing for exercise/health publications. stephiescott@cox.net or 602-565-1240.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 25, Number 4, August/September 2006.

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