Joel Gascoigne

Startups, life, learning and happiness

I'm Founder & CEO of Buffer. This is where I share lessons I'm learning.

Exercise: a requirement for sleep?

Written on 21st November, 2010
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Recently I have struggled to get to sleep at night. When I need to be up at 8 and working away on either my own projects or exciting client projects by 9 it is vital that I wake up refreshed and ready for a challenging day. So why am I having trouble sleeping?

Busy lifestyle pushes exercise aside

In the last few weeks I’ve found myself a lot busier than usual - client projects and multiple side projects of my own.

As a result, I’ve not been exercising as much as I usually do. I am now starting to think that exercise is not something that can take a lower priority when things get busy.

Tired?

I’m mentally drained from the day’s work, but physically I have just been sat at a desk all day and I have too much energy to fall asleep. This distinction is important. In order to sleep well, I am starting to realise I need to be both mentally and physically tired.

Does exercise have an impact?

After around a week and a half away from the gym, one evening I decided enough was enough and I went and swam 50 lengths. The result? I got back, went to bed at 10pm and I was asleep before I knew it, and slept right through. I felt refreshed and ready to get on with things again the next morning.

A simple search on Google reveals many results similar to this one:

Exercise is important for a healthy life. People who are physically fit have a better quality of sleep. A healthy body and a relaxed mind will increase your chances of being able to fall asleep and gain the benefits of a good night’s sleep.

Quality of sleep

That point could easily be overlooked in that last quote. It mentions quality of sleep. So what is quality of sleep? The way I see it, generally quality sleep is sleep when you’re not stressed. So in order to get quality sleep we need to feel we’re happy with what we’ve accomplished in the day - be it work or much needed renewal. Another component could be our environment - I live in central Birmingham and it can get noisy at times, though I don’t feel like this affects my sleep as much as the other factors.

Time to make a few changes

I think I need to get more exercise, otherwise this is going to become a real problem. It should be easier to motivate myself to exercise when I know that sleep, and ultimately my energy levels throughout each and every day as a result depend upon it.

How do I fit it in?

The only thing now is, how do I fit in the crucial exercise I need in order to fall asleep each night? Do I need to exercise every day, or will once every two days give me the chance to stretch myself physically enough in order to be able to put my head to the pillow without being awake for hours? I’m going to start off by trying to exercise every couple of days, alternating between cardio and weights as I have done in the past. I’ll probably write about how it goes soon.

Have you had trouble sleeping before due to not exercising? I’d love to hear about your experiences.

Photo credit: Colton Witt

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