Exercise has long been known to improve sleep and studies have shown that a single bout of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise (e.g. walking) can reduce the time it takes for those with chronic insomnia to fall asleep and increase the length of time spent asleep. Regular exercise can help normalise our body clock (circadian rhythm) and therefore make it more likely that your eyes will be closing by the time your head hits the pillow. If you have not been doing any exercise recently, exercising in the afternoon or early evening may help. However, be careful not to exercise too vigorously, too close to bedtime. Intense exercise can lead to the elevation of certain hormones (such as cortisol) that may prevent you drifting off to sleep. It is best to do your hardest workouts earlier in the day, making sure you allow for at least 3-4 hours before you go to bed.
Managing stress and anxiety is vital in order to improve sleep quality. Having a relaxing bath before bed is a great way to unwind and forget about the day’s stressors and set you up nicely for a restful night’s slumber. Taking an Epsom salt bath offers a double edged attack on sleep! Magnesium is the key nutrient to calming the nervous system and is topically absorbed by the skin therefore a very successful strategy for enhancing sleep quality. So you have the psychological, relaxing effects, as well as the potential nervous-system calming benefits of the magnesium.
Other useful tips for ensuring a good night’s sleep include sleeping in a darkened room, minimising external noise (sleeping with ear plugs is very effective) and investing in a good bed.