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The secret behind good exercise and good sleep

by Adele Rogers on Friday 26 August 2016

Ever spent a sleepless night tossing and turning, only to get up feeling as though you’ve run a marathon?

While rotating in bed doesn’t quite count as a workout, chances are you’ll unravel yourself from your bed-sheet cocoon, and ditch the gym that day because you’re too tired.

Regardless of how tough it seems, making sure you’re still getting some actual exercise in during the day can help you feel more in tune and sleep soundly at night, but there are a few unspoken rules to live by.

  1. Try to avoid late night workouts. High intensity training before bed can actually make it harder to fall asleep. Your heart, brain and muscles are all stimulated, and your body temp is raised, which is not at all conducive to an instant rest.
  2. Get moving early. Morning exercise will help immediately shake that feeling of wanting to kick-box everyone you pass in the street. Happy chemicals released in your brain during your workout can improve mood and relieve stress - and as insomnia is directly related to stress and anxiety, it should also improve your sleep.
  3. Make afternoons your go-to. When it comes to afternoon/early evening exercise – we’re using the hearts-for-eyes Emoji! It gives you all the goods, but is timed perfectly for your body to cool and re-level itself just in time for some zzz’s.
  4. Don’t cheat yourself on sleep. This is the biggest rule in the book. If you need to make the choice – choose sleep over your workout. A common mistake people make is failing to make sleep a priority. It is incredibly important for recovery, especially if you’re training hard, and a lack of sleep can increase your risk of injury. Sleep also promotes muscle repair and growth, so your bod will be better for it.


The amount of good quality shut-eye you should be getting varies from person-to-person. For years we’ve been told to secure a solid 8 hours – but new-age researchers suggest that some people can get by on as little as 5 hours perfectly well. The trick is to listen to your body. If you wake up feeling rested, you’re probably done. But if you wake up feeling exhausted and ratty, you may be in need of a tad more.

Virgin Active PT David Roberts suggests keeping a sleep journal so you can look for patterns in what supports or detracts from good sleep, as well as getting into a good routine for going to bed.

David’s hot tip? Set a bed-time alarm on your phone. We all set a waking up alarm, but few of us ever set a bed time alarm. You may not go straight to sleep, but getting into the routine of brushing your teeth, getting in your jammies, and avoiding screens once your alarm rings, could very well be the ticket to a better night’s sleep!

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