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Science and research

How physical activity can improve your sleep & overall health

Get the best ZZZs of your life with physical activity

family playing soccerMy name is Alanna McGinn, I’m a certified sleep expert and I’ve partnered with ParticipACTION to educate Canadians on the importance of including more physical activity during the day to better your sleep.

It’s important to audit our three pillars of health – exercise, nutrition and sleep.

Incorporating daily physical activity primes our body and builds our drive for sleep, which helps make it easier to fall and stay asleep throughout the night. 

When you think about it, it’s easy to understand why it would be difficult to be physically active when you’re feeling overtired and exhausted. On the other hand, getting at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity can actually help you get a more restful sleep.

How to help your family focus on better sleep

mom and son sleepingTo start, it’s important to understand that not getting enough sleep is not only a problem for adults, but it’s an issue for kids too. In fact, according to the latest ParticipACTION Report Cards on Physical Activity, adults received a “B-” grade for sleep and children and youth are doing only a bit better with a “B+.”

More specifically, one quarter of school-aged children and youth in Canada are not meeting the sleep recommendation provided by the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth.

The good news is that since sleep and physical activity are deeply connected, families can make changes that will help them sleep better and support an increase in their level of physical activity. Since research shows that poor sleep patterns affect the ability to get active, try these tips to help get the rest you need.

  • Remove technology from bedrooms (yes, adults too). Use a family docking station, located in the kitchen or family room, where everyone can plug in devices overnight.
  • Avoid electronics at least 60 minutes before bed. Use that time instead to connect with family and decompress.
  • Install blackout blinds to create a dark environment which signals your brain to release melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone.
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine and spicy foods before bed.
  • Try gentle stretching or a leisurely walk outdoors to prepare your body for sleep mode.

Don’t forget that being physically active is proven to reduce stress and improve the ability to get a good night’s sleep. Once you’re better rested, it should feel less overwhelming to try and add at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day. With a little effort and a commitment to prioritizing sleep and daily movement, your whole family will be on their way to improved overall health.

Alanna McGinn is Founder and Certified Sleep Expert of Good Night Sleep Site, a global sleep consulting practice. She is host of the ‘This Girl Loves Sleep’ Podcast and author of This Baby Loves Sleep. 

Download the ParticipACTION app and get rewarded for all your active minutes!

The ParticipACTION app is the active app for everyone. It’s available for download, for free, in the App Store as well as Google Play. Keep track of all your active minutes and earn some sweet prizes while you’re at it!

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