Gym Owner Monthly

Experts reveal the one workout class proven to make you sleep better – and it doesn’t involve ANY cardio

Doctors consistently recommend exercise as a tool for improving sleep. 
 
But certain types of movements might help you snooze more than others, experts say. 
 
Resistance training – using weights, body weight, or resistance bands – is the best way to improve your sleep, according to Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, a physiologist who specialises in sleep therapy.
 
This involves movements like squats, lunges and push ups – as well as lifting hand weights or using machines. 
 
Resistance workouts encompass a broad range, but generally include exercises which put your muscles under stress
 
The sleep-enhancing benefits of resistance exercises lie in the fact your muscles  produce more of a hormone that makes you sleepy called adenosine, compared to cardio like running and HIIT.
 
Sleep is crucial to health. Those who get insufficient sleep have overall poorer quality of life and increased risk for diabetes, obesity, heart disease, cancer and death, according to the National Council on Aging. 
 
So if you struggle with insomnia, mixing some push ups, deadlifts or cable pulls into your routine could make all the difference. 
 
Ramlakhan’s revelation is based on a 2022 study of 386 Americans by the American Heart Association. 
 
According to the study, people who did resistance workouts slept for 40 more minutes a night than people who didn’t exercise at all and 17 more minutes than people who did cardio alone. 
 
They also had better sleep quality and reported feeling more rested when they woke up. 
 
Lifting weights might cause your body to release more of a chemical that makes you sleepy, in order to stimulate repair, Dr Ramlakhan said. 
 
During the night, it’s thought that our body repairs damage from the stress it experienced throughout the day, says Professor Angelique Brellenthin, the study’s author and an assistant professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa told CNN. 
 
When muscles are more fatigued it is possible they release more chemicals, like adenosine, Dr Ramlakhan said. These chemicals tell your body to sleep longer and more deeply, so that your body has more time to repair the muscle tissue. 
 
‘Physical movement can help us produce the chemical adenosine, which promotes sleepiness and enables melatonin [sleep regulation hormone] to work more effectively,’ Dr Ramlakhan explained to Stylist. 
 
‘The build-up in the levels of adenosine is the catalyst to stop adrenaline and other stimulating hormones. This initiates the biochemical changes necessary for sleep.’
 
Dr Ramlakhan says just an hour of mild resistance exercises per day is enough to result in sleep benefits.
 
Resistance band workouts can be used for an upper body, leg or core workout, depending on where you place the bands. 
 
Some experts believe that weight training stimulates testosterone and growth hormones, which have both been linked with ‘better, deeper sleep,’ Professor Brellenthin said.  
 
The American Heart Association study’s authors caution that you shouldn’t move away from cardio completely – since it’s been shown to support heart health and overall wellbeing. 
 
But if you’re worried about your sleep in particular, mixing in a couple resistance workouts a week could make a world of difference. 
 
‘While both aerobic and resistance exercise are important for overall health, our results suggest that resistance exercises may be superior when it comes to getting better ZZZ’s at night,’ Brellenthin said.