Difficulty falling, or staying, asleep is a problem that plagues many adults. In addition to daytime drowsiness, a lack of quality sleep has been linked to numerous health problems, including depression and anxiety.
Often, one factor that could be contributing to insomnia is a hormone called cortisol, which is affected by the amount of stress a person is experiencing. One way to greatly improve both the quantity and quality of sleep is to regulate your body’s cortisol levels with morning exercise. Learn more below about how cortisol is used in your body, and how you can help it to work for you instead of against you.
What is Cortisol?
Cortisol is often referred to as “the stress hormone” because the amount of cortisol produced by the body increases when we are stressed. However, when cortisol is produced at the right times and in the right amounts it actually benefits the body in many ways. Cortisol is used to regulate metabolism, reduce inflammation, and control blood sugar levels and blood pressure. It also helps us to formulate memories and supports the healthy development of unborn babies while in the womb.
When we get overly stressed, our bodies can begin producing too much cortisol or making the wrong levels at the wrong times. For example, we may experience a spike in cortisol levels at night when we wish to be sleeping, and a dip in cortisol levels during the day when we want to be active. Regular morning exercise, like swimming or walking, can help create the boost we need in the morning to get back on track.
How to Lower Cortisol Levels
If high cortisol levels are keeping us up at night, learning how to lower cortisol levels is extremely important. One of the best ways to do this is to implement a routine that includes morning exercise. Some of the many benefits of morning exercise include a reduction in stress and lower cortisol levels, more energy and an elevated mood throughout the day, and longer, deeper sleep at night.
You can also reduce cortisol levels before bed with a relaxing night-time routine. Go to bed at the same time every night and try stepping away from the electronics about an hour beforehand. Change it up by reading a book, soaking in a hot tub, or meditating. Your nutrition can also affect the regulation of cortisol, melatonin, and other sleep-related hormones. Keep your gut bacteria happy with healthy foods containing Vitamin C and Magnesium, and avoiding processed and sugary foods as much as possible.
Swimming for Morning Exercise
With morning exercise, we intentionally cause our cortisol levels to rise in a healthy way at an appropriate time. This helps us train our bodies to produce cortisol in the morning, and lower cortisol late in the day. Fortunately, there is not just one right exercise that holds the key to cortisol regulation. Try walking, yoga, weight-lifting, or our favorite: swimming. Swimming is a great way to take advantage of the benefits of morning exercise because it provides both resistance training and cardio. It is also low-impact and can be done alone or with a workout partner. Just remember to make sure a lifeguard is on duty if you plan to go alone. You can also sign up for morning swimming lessons to improve your skills and keep yourself committed to morning exercise.
Start Swimming With SwimJim
SwimJim offers swimming lessons for all ages and experience levels to people in Houston and throughout New York City, including in Brooklyn, Midtown, and the Upper West Side. If you haven’t been swimming in a while or never learned, now is a great time to sign up for a class! You can even make it a family activity and enroll the kids in fun swimming lessons of their own with skilled and caring instructors.
At SwimJim, we are passionate about helping swim students feel comfortable in the water, which includes a strong emphasis on water safety. You’ll learn how to practice safe swimming strategies, drowning prevention, and what to do in case of an emergency.
Learn how to swim with us, or sign up for advanced or adult programs today! We also offer private SwimJim lessons for one-on-one instruction. Contact us for more information and to get started.