I absolutely love my job. I love it because it lets me help people find better sleep. But it’s not just better sleep they’re finding, and I see it all the time in our patients – improving sleep benefits all sorts of things: relationships, work, sex drive, social interactions, stress management, and more!
One huge element that goes with sleep is physical activity – activity and sleep feed each other in a miraculous cycle, and that’s what I’m focusing on for this blog.
Restful sleep is essential for getting the most out of your day
People with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) don’t have access to properly restful sleep. When we do sleep consultations at Apnée Santé, people tell us all the time about how hard it is for them to remain energetic, alert and focused. After dragging themselves up in the morning, they spend the day with one thought stuck on repeat: “I wanna go back to bed…”
It starts with good sleep
When you’re sleep deprived, just getting through the basics can seem like climbing a mountain. Everything seems harder: focusing on work, getting the kids off to school without stress, keeping the house clean, I don’t know, brushing your teeth…
When even the little things get hard, regular physical activity becomes mission impossible.
Sleep Apnea puts you in this position by robbing you of the sleep you need. You suffer breathing interruptions whenever you’re asleep, and your body alerts slightly to restart the breathing cycle, often dozens of times an hour! With OSA you rarely “alert” enough to wake all the way up, but you also never fully enter longer-term restorative sleep, which means no matter how many hours you spend in bed you get up feeling like you’ve barely slept.
Continuous Positive Air Pressure (CPAP) therapy helps ensure stable breathing, so your sleep is actually restorative. After a few weeks of adapting to the device, sleep improves dramatically.
Ok, so boring mechanical stuff aside, what’s the real result? Suddenly you’ll find your daily energy has returned, like an old friend you forgot you were missing. And when your energy comes back so do other things: it’s common for people who’ve started CPAP therapy to start paying more attention to their overall health.
Turns out, exercise is good for you
Obvious statement alert: daily activity helps maintain good physical and mental health.
We all know this, right? But really, whether you’re pushing your limits at the gym, zenning out with some yoga, running like crazy on the tennis court or tending a bed of flowers, keeping active every day will contribute to your overall health. It’s hard to do any of those things if you’re walking around like a zombie all day, but once your sleep is in order, regular physical activity motivates you to eat better, helps you think better, and yes, makes you sleep better.
Get active to get to sleep
See what happened there? You sleep better, so you feel like getting more active, which helps you sleep better! But how does it work?
According to Charlene Gamaldo, M.D., medical director at the Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep, “We have solid evidence that exercise does, in fact, help you fall asleep more quickly and improves sleep quality.”1
There are many mechanisms at work here. Exercise helps you stabilize your mood and decompress. It also releases endorphins and raises your core temperature – as both of these come back down following exercise, it signals the brain that it’s time to sleep.
What’s more, it doesn’t even take much. Just 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise can help you see a difference in sleep quality that same night, so the benefits come right away. Says Gamaldo, “Patients don’t need to feel like they have to train for the Boston Marathon to become a better sleeper.”
Isn’t all that exercise going to stress my body?
Yes. But the quality sleep that got you back into sports will be your best ally.
According to Chrisitie Aschwanden, author of Good to Go and authority on sports recovery, “Sleep is when your body repairs the damage you’ve done during the day. While you sleep, hormones involved in tissue repair, like testosterone and human growth hormone, kick into high gear.”2 So the more you sleep, the more energy you have to exercise, which means you are able to sleep better, which helps your body recover for the next day… and on the cycle goes.
Stay active, and rested, for a long and healthy life
Better sleep and a more active lifestyle go together like a happy couple.
Along with good nutrition, sleep and exercise are critical pillars to support your overall health, happiness and wellbeing. At Apnée Santé we know all about how that works, and thanks to our Care For Life program, I’m here to discuss any questions you might have. So see you soon to share our passion for sports, and for a good night’s sleep!