As I reflect on my inquiry about how daily exercise could improve my sleeping patterns, I see a lot of things that went well and some areas of struggle. At the beginning of the semester, I was very enthusiastic about working out and improving my sleep which is what led me to this inquiry. While I still have an interest in sleeping patterns and working out, I neglected to factor in the amount of time and variables that are involved with improving sleep. I learned that while exercise plays a large role in one’s sleeping patterns, there are many other things to consider when trying to improve sleep. For one, the time of day in which you exercise plays a role. I found personally that working out before bed was the best time for me but, that can vary per person. Next, I learned that what you eat and drink before bed will affect how you sleep that night and to avoid doing so at least 45 mins before you lay down. I also learned about how the blue-light in our computers, TVs and phones stimulates our brains and plays a role in how long it takes us to fall asleep.
I experimented with going to the gym, going for runs and doing yoga in the evening to see if any of those forms of exercise helped my sleep. I found that going to the gym was good for my sleep but, it had a negative effect on my home life due to time spent commuting. I then looked at running and how it would help my sleep. I was quickly reminded that I am not a fan of running. Not enjoying running made it difficult for me to get motivated to go and do my daily exercise. And lastly, I looked at doing yoga for daily exercise before bed. I found the strongest results with this method of exercise. I was able to do it from home, it took a very minimal amount of time and it put me in a calm and meditative state before heading to bed. I experimented with different videos and found that this video was my favourite one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BiWDsfZ3zbo! Once I got into the routine of doing yoga, almost every night, I realized that other little pieces of my inquiry started falling into place. I stopped with late-night snacking and put my phone away for the night before doing my yoga.
Since I found something that seemed to work with improving my sleep patterns, I decided to expand my inquiry towards other aspects of sleep. I research and interview friends and family to see what is the key ingredients are for a good night’s sleep (to learn more check out this blog). This was interesting because I was able to learn and hear about all the different factors that play a role in someone’s sleep. I know for myself, I function best off 8 hours of sleep, in a dark room that is a little bit cool however, this can vary per individual. I then became interested in finding a system that was better for tracking my sleep. At the beginning of my inquiry, I was trying to record my sleep patterns in my journal. This became slightly difficult with the limited amount of time I have in the morning and often forgetting to do it…whoops. So, I tried two sleep tracking apps that proved to be a much more informative and efficient way of tracking my sleep. You can find out more about the two apps in my blog. Finally, I wanted to explore and learn more about what happens in our unconscious as we sleep and looked into the realm of dreams. Learning more about dreams was super fascinating because it provided me with a greater understanding of dreams, what they are and how they occur.
To conclude, while I believe I choose a difficult inquiry topic, that was much more multifaceted than I expected, I walked away with a lot of new information and a healthier lifestyle. I learned more about my sleeping patterns, what works well for me and what does not.
My advice for someone doing a similar inquiry would be to make yourself aware of all the variables that could be involved. I think having known that the improvement of sleep is dependant on so many things outside of exercise, I would have narrowed down my question. But for someone prepared and aware of the variables, being organized will be key to staying on top of all the different avenues your inquiry will take you!