Updated: Sep 5, 2019
About one in three adults have difficulty sleeping. Insomnia itself can cause anxiety and so we tend to often end up in a vicious cycle of anxiety and sleep deprivation.
Swimming is a great activity to relax your body and mind and help you to sleep.
Why is swimming a good way to help me sleep?
Swimming burns around 350 to 420 calories an hour, depending on how hard you are working. Compare this to walking, which burns around 177 to 279 calories an hour and you can see then benefits!
Swimming uses all of the major muscle groups and is therefore a demanding exercise that uses the entire body. All the main four strokes engage the abdominals, biceps, triceps, glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps. Other primary muscles used in swimming include the anterior and posterior deltoids, pectorals and trapezius.
Swimming is an aerobic exercise which means that it moves large muscle groups continuously for a duration that raises the heart rate. Due to the buoyancy and cooling effects of water, a swimmers heart rate will not reach the same level as the heart rate of a person doing the same amount of exercise on dry land. This can be of benefit to those with certain illnesses.
Water requires more work to move in than air due to resistance. Water provides 12 times the resistance of air, despite its buoyancy. Any stress of movement shifts to the muscles, making swimming both aerobic and anaerobic and this combination can wear you out!
Why is swimming a good way to reduce stress?
Aside from making you physically tired, swimming can aid sleep by reducing stress. Many swimmers find that a good swimming session leaves them feeling happier and more relaxed. As the incidence of depression is on the increase, much research is being done into why this is the case and even whether swimming could be used as part of treatment for this. As well as possible biochemical changes in the brain, swimming requires alternating stretch and relaxation of skeletal muscles while simultaneously deep-breathing in a rhythmic pattern similar to Yoga.
According to researchers from the National Sleep Foundation there is a direct correlation between swimming and sleep. The organization administered a poll in which they asked participants about their exercise and sleep habits. Those who worked out on a light, moderate or rigorous basis indicated that they got a good night's sleep nearly every night when compared to those who didn't exercise at all.
Endorphins! These joyful little chemical burst out from within spreading their happy all through your body. Scientific studies have shown endorphins improve self-esteem and feelings of euphoria. Endorphins are also associated with relieving stress and improving sleep if you commit to making the lifestyle choice to be active.
Relaxation! Take a break from busy life and unwind with a swim or soak can help reduce stress to relax and unwind. Relaxing before bed can help prevent the stresses of the day keeping you up all night.
So whether you’re currently doing a few laps a week or you haven’t floated in anything bigger than your bathtub for years, swimming is hands down the best way to beat late night insomnia blues.