Again Kingsley (my 1-year old) woke up in the middle of 2am.
He’s not hungry or sick. He is basically craving for cuddling but none of us parents is keen. We have to work tomorrow. Plus we slept late trying to catch up with the latest TVB drama.
It happened on and off.
We are not really sure what is going on. And one day it happened on the night where we went for a late night run so we were awoken with zero batteries to cuddle him and get him back to sleep.
It felt lousy. I began to question my parenting skills. He is already 1-year old and he is our third kid. It should have been a breeze.
Then it hit me.
If exercise would make me sleep like a dog, shouldn’t the same apply to Kingsley?
So I did an experiment and brought him to the exercise park near my place and let him have at least 30 minutes of “gym” time.
Kylie and Kingsley having fun at the exercise area
He had a great time just exploring the equipment and doing the most annoying thing people can at gym, bouncing from one equipment to another.
He would chuckle when he manage to get the thing moving and whine for me when he can’t.
It doesn’t matter. The important bit is he is exercising his muscles after letting it sleep for most of the day.
According to a study by National Sleep Foundation, physical activity impacts on overall quality of sleep.
The study that looked at the effects of a single exercise session found that a bout of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise (e.g., walking) reduced the time it took to fall asleep and increased the length of sleep of people with chronic insomnia compared to a night in which they did not exercise.
In these studies, after 4 to 24 weeks of exercise, adults with insomnia fell asleep more quickly, slept slightly longer, and had better sleep quality than before they began exercising.
Although they are unable to confirm why that is so, they did come up with a few assumptions:
- Exercise triggers an increase in body temperature, and the post-exercise drop in temperature may promote falling asleep
- Exercise may also reduce insomnia by decreasing arousal, anxiety and depressive symptoms. Insomnia is commonly linked with elevated arousal, anxiety, and depression, and exercise has strong effects on reducing these symptoms in the general population.
- Finally, exercise may reduce insomnia by its effects on circadian rhythms (body clock). For people with insomnia due to the timing of their body clock, exercise may shift its timing depending upon the time exercise is performed.
And that is just purely on exercise. Because he was brought to the outdoor park, he was exposed to nature too. Something which I believe he really appreciate after being in the house for more than 8 hours straight.
Research has shown that environments can have a significant impact on our bodies.
How Being Outdoor Help You Sleep Better
This is because what you see, hear and experience is changing not only your mood, but how your nervous, endocrine, and immune systems are working.
An unpleasant environment will tend to make one feel anxious, sad and/or helpless. This makes blood pressure, heart rate and muscle tension go up and suppresses your immune system.
A soothing and pleasing environment reverses all that.
Just think about it. If you wish to truly relax, would you choose to go to a Spa or deliberately be stuck in a traffic jam?
Here are other positives to exposing yourself to nature:
- Nature heals – Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical well-being, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones.
- Nature soothes – Nature helps us cope with pain. Because we are genetically programmed to find trees, plants, water, and other nature elements engrossing, we are absorbed by nature scenes and distracted from our pain and discomfort.
- Nature restores – In one study in Mind, 95% of those interviewed said their mood improved after spending time outside, changing from depressed, stressed, andanxious to more calm and balanced. In another interesting area, Andrea Taylor’s research on children with ADHD shows that time spent in nature increases their attention span later.
- Too much time in front of screens is deadly – “Nature deprivation,” a lack of time in the natural world, largely due to hours spent in front of TV or computer screens, has been associated, unsurprisingly, with depression. More unexpected are studies by Weinstein and others that associate screen time with loss of empathy and lack of altruism.
So if you wish to have a good night sleep, you gotta make sure your toddler is having one too. It only takes 30 minutes each day to bring them out to a place nearby and let them exhaust their pent-up energy.
That is just sacrificing one round of Candy Crush (Do people still play that?)
You will thank me for it when you get your straight 8 hours of sleep.