Sleeping is supposed to be this thing your body does naturally, but sometimes nodding off for the night can seem like the most challenging part of your day. According to a new report by alarm clock app Sleep Cycle, getting in some exercise and having enough time to sleep are the two most important factors for getting great sleep. The company’s Sleep Cycle Institute, which is comprised of multidisciplinary health and wellness experts, examined the Sleep Cycle app’s internal data from millions of active users to find out how people’s lifestyles affect their sleep quality, the company said in a news release. The company says their experts found that Americans who exercised and found more time to sleep slept better.
The Sleep Cycle app has more than three million monthly active users, according to the news release, and the report includes three years’ worth of user data totaling 148,116,221 nights of sleep. According to the report, Americans who exercise more sleep better regardless of their gender or age, and they average an extra 10 minutes of sleep on days they work out. They also snore four minutes less a night than people who don’t exercise, according to the report. And Americans who sleep more than eight hours a night have an average sleep quality of 82 percent, which Sleep Cycle says is the highest sleep quality of all Americans.
But if your days are already packed to the brim, how do you find the time to exercise, let alone get some extra sleep? Well, when it comes to exercise, you’re probably getting more physical activity than you even realize, and all you have to do is take it up a notch to try to improve your sleep. There are so many things you do every day that count as exercise — like going grocery shopping (those cases of sparkling water aren’t light, yo), playing active video games, vacuuming the carpet, or even carrying loads of wet laundry around.
Just be a little more conscious of how you’re engaging in those activities, like maybe do a squat instead of bending down to grab that can of corn off the bottom shelf at the grocery store. You’ll still get your grocery shopping done, but you’ll also get your workout in at the same time.
Finding time to get more sleep might be a little bit harder, but it’s not impossible. Sometimes it takes setting boundaries for yourself — because if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t be your best self. “We need to take the plunge to a more meaningful step in the right direction,” Christopher M. Barnes wrote for The Harvard Review. “This requires asking an important question: When should I call it a night? When should I stop working for the evening so I can rest up and be at my best tomorrow?”
Barnes points out that people are less effective as leaders and produce lower quality work when they’re sleep deprived, and although Barnes is referring to the workplace, that can be applied to pretty much any facet of life. Sometimes life commitments make it pretty darn impossible to get as much sleep as you need, but know that it’s OK to make yourself a priority and to get rest when you need it.
If getting a good night's sleep has been a bit of a hurdle lately, maybe try a little power-grocery-shopping session or take the stairs a few times to see if the added activity helps you get a few more winks. And remember: it's totally OK to give yourself permission to shut everything down for the night so you can rest. Sleep is a glorious thing, and you deserve it just as much as everybody else.