Exercise for Better Sleep | Study

Personally, I have noticed that if I exercise, I sleep better. I attribute this to the feel good chemicals the body secretes during exercise. These chemicals make one feel good and this means much stress is released.

According to a new Survey by National Sleep Foundation, USA,

People who exercise, even lightly, report sleeping better than individuals who don’t exercise.

How the Study was conducted:

The survey was conducted with 1,000 U.S. adults, in the age group of  23 to 60 years.

Exercise profile of the participants goes like this:

Light Exercisers: Close to 50 percent
Moderate Exercisers: 25 percent
Vigorous Exercisers: 18 percent
Non-Exercisers: 9 percent

What different intensity exercises meant:

Light Exercises or physical activity: Walking
Moderate Exercises or physical activity: Weight lifting and yoga
Vigorous Exercises or physical activity:  Running, swimming or cycling

Participants rated their weekly physical activity as light, moderate, vigorous or none based on activities they performed for at least 10 minutes at a time.

What the Survey Results revealed:

Among people who said they engaged in light, moderate or vigorous physical activity during the week, 56 to 67 percent reported that they “had a good night’s sleep,” almost every night on week nights.

By contrast, just 39 percent of people who did not exercise at all reported sleeping this well on week nights.

Exercisers were also less likely to report sleep problems compared to non-exercises.

Just 8 percent of people who exercised vigorously said they had difficulty falling asleep almost every night, compared to 24 percent of non-exercisers.

What the Study says and doesn’t say:

1) The survey puts a stamp of approval to the age old wisdom of Sleep hygiene: “People who are active tend to sleep better,”.

2) The Survey only found a positive association between Sleep and Exercise. It doesn’t say, Exercise Always leads to Better Sleep. For instance, it could be that people who don’t sleep well are too tired to exercise.

3) Leading a disciplined Life, that is sleeping at right time, waking up at the right time, exercising does help you sleep better. It’s like having a well set biological clock. That apart, a disciplined life means having time for everything necessary for good health — Adequate diet, adequate sleep, adequate exercise.

4) While the quality of sleep was poorer for people who didn’t engage in physical activity, both exercisers and non-exercisers reported getting similar amounts of sleep — about seven hours a night.

5) Exercise allows people to have better sleep, as exercise also causes weight loss. Weight loss means, improvement in the symptoms of sleep apnea, a condition often linked to obesity ( People who have sleep apnea stop breathing for brief periods during the night).

6) Attacking on the long held belief that one should not exercise just before bedtime. The study says that, even exercising close to bedtime improved sleep in the people who were polled.  Individuals who exercised at any time of the day slept better than those who didn’t exercise, the survey found.

The Effect of the Findings:

The National Sleep Foundation has changed its recommendations on exercise and sleep to encourage exercise at any time of the day or evening, unless exercising is done at the expense of sleep. However, people with chronic insomnia should still not exercise close to bedtime.

Conclusion: If you Exercise, You will sleep better.