Incorporating regular exercise into your routine to promote better sleep.

Exercise is often recommended as a way to manage persistent pain. However, for those with pain, exercise can also have an impact on sleep. In this chapter, we'll explore the relationship between exercise and sleep, and provide tips for incorporating exercise into a sleep-friendly routine.

Benefits of exercise for sleep

Exercise has been shown to improve sleep quality and duration, even in those with persistent pain. It can reduce stress and anxiety, promote the release of endorphins, and improve mood, all of which can positively impact sleep.

Benefits include:

  • Increases levels of serotonin and melatonin in your brain, which helps to regulate your sleep/wake cycle.
  • Increases the stability of your circadian rhythm.
  • Increases total time spent in deep restorative sleep.
  • Reduces sleep latency (time it takes to fall asleep).
  • Increases levels of adenosine, the sleep-drive chemical.
  • Improves nighttime blood glucose regulation, which can help reduce the risk of sleep disturbances.

Incorporating Exercise

To incorporate exercise into a sleep-friendly routine, consider the following:


Avoid exercise within three hours of bedtime, as the increase in heart rate and body temperature can make it harder to fall asleep. Exercise earlier in the day to provide an energizing boost.

Type of exercise

Choose low-impact exercises such as yoga or swimming, which are gentler on the body and less likely to cause pain. Also, choose exercises that you enjoy, as this can help to reduce stress and promote relaxation.


Aim for moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking or cycling, which can provide benefits without putting too much strain on the body.


Exercise at least three times per week and stick to a regular schedule to regulate your body's circadian rhythms.

Taking action

Schedule exercise and strenuous activities for earlier in the day and avoid these activities for three hours before bed. Consider taking a short walk or doing gentle stretching in the evening to promote relaxation and encourage your body to prepare for sleep.

Exercise has numerous benefits for pain management, including its ability to improve sleep. Incorporating exercise into a sleep-friendly routine and choosing the best time to exercise can provide the maximum benefits for managing persistent pain and improving sleep quality.