Get On Your Bike And Improve Your Sleep Cycle

Regular cycling can help cure sleeplessness say Total Fitness

Forget the hot milky drinks or counting sheep jumping over a fence and don’t even consider the desperate and fairly dangerous last resort of hitting yourself on the head with a mallet. If you want a much easier and far better way of dropping off for a long, deep sleep then jumping on a bike and going for a ride is one of the best there is. Of course, you don’t do this cycling just before you go to bed, or that would boost you energy level and simply wake you up anyway. And besides, riding your bike in your sleep shorts, pajamas or nightie is not a good idea.

Sleep is good for every body

Before we get into why cycling can help you beat sleeplessness, let’s just consider why we need lots of sleep in the first place. Well, first of all we’d be very tired if we didn’t, but there’s more to it than that. Sleep refreshes us, revitalises us, and helps us to be ready physically and mentally for the day ahead. Without it, we can feel weak, and dull and generally not up for anything much, which let’s face it is not the ideal way to turn up for work, or even spend the weekend.

Even more importantly, getting plenty of sleep is one of the best things our bodies can do to reduce the risk of strokes or heart disease.

You need deep sleep, not the tossing and turning type

It’s not just quantity of sleep that matters, it’s quality too. A restless night, where you’re grabbing half an hour’s kip every now and then in between long periods of staring up at the ceiling just won’t do the trick. You need true sleep and total rest for it to work its magic.

In a nutshell then, a good night’s sleep is a great idea. And the more often we can get one, the better. Which is where cycling regularly really comes into its own.

In recent research undertaken by the Northwestern University, cycling at 75% of your maximum heart rate for twenty minutes, four times a week, was found to be the most effective way of beating sleeplessness, when compared to several other activities.

Even insomniacs can sleep better after cycling

Basically, the actual motion of cycling vigorously, combined with the continuous focus required to stay alert for traffic and other distractions both work together to expend your energy and prepare you for sleep at the end of the day. So although a brisk bike ride early in the morning might make you feel a bit knackered out at the time, it could pay dividends when it comes to getting some quality shut-eye late in the evening

In another research programme, Stanford University School of Medicine

Instructed a group of habitual insomnia sufferers to cycle for 20- 30 minutes every other day. This resulted in the normal time required for the insomniacs to fall asleep being actually reduced by half.

Another endorsement for cycling from the people with big brains comes from Professor Jim Horne from Loughborough University’s Sleep Research Centre: “Exercising outside exposes you to daylight. This helps get your circadian rhythm back in sync, and also rids your body of cortisol, the stress hormone that can prevent, deep, regenerative sleep.”

Two-wheel exercise means countless benefits

Best of all, helping you get to sleep is just one of the many benefits your body can gain from cycling. Riding your bike can also protect your skin from UV radiation, help build the brain cells that are responsible for memory and fight off all sorts of infection. And if you’re looking for further advantages, cycling can even improve your sexlife and help you lose weight by burning more calories. If all that doesn’t steer you towards some two-wheel exercise, then nothing will.

Oh, and one last point, if you haven’t got a bike or you’re simply not a fan of hitting the open road, remember that your local Total Fitness club has plenty of static bikes ready and waiting for you to workout on. They might not be quite as good as the real thing, but 20 minutes a day on one of our statics could go a long way towards helping you sleep better.