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Active Lifestyle Linked To Better Sleep

Mar 4th, 2013

better sleepPeople who have trouble falling asleep may want to get up and move if they want to sleep better. A recent report shows that exercise promotes better sleep and the harder the workout the better.

The study, conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, found that even just ten minutes of light exercise can help improve sleep quality and duration.

“We found that exercise and great sleep go together, hand in hand,” said Max Hirshkowitz, sleep researcher and head of the poll task force.

“We also found a step-wise increase in how vigorous the quality is, in terms of how much you exercise. So if you say you exercise a lot, we found better sleep quality. For people who don’t exercise at all we found more sleep problems.”

Several studies have already shown the effect of exercise on sleep, but this survey is the first to investigate the benefits of exercise in a nationally representative poll of this magnitude.

The survey found that people who exercise regularly slept better than those who were more sedentary. However, sleep duration was the same for both groups; averaging just under seven hours each night.

For the study, researchers surveyed the sleep quality of 1,000 people across the United States. More than 75 percent of exercisers reported better sleep, compared to just over half of people who did not exercise.

According to the survey, active people had fewer sleep problems, fell asleep sooner, and needed less sleep each night to function fully the following day.

The poll also revealed that sitting for more than eight hours each day had a negative impact on sleep.

Almost half of all Americans have experienced insomnia one time or another, while 22 percent have chronic insomnia. The condition can be caused by stress, anxiety, pain, and medication.

In addition to better sleep, exercisers reported better overall health and were more alert throughout the day.

As much as three times sedentary people have trouble staying awake during the day than exercisers. They also took more naps and had more symptoms of sleep apnea (abnormal pauses in breathing or abnormally low breathing during sleep) than exercisers.

The survey also challenges the idea that exercising early or late in the day have negative effects on sleep. It showed that exercising at any time of the day was better than being sedentary.

“Exercise is beneficial to sleep,” said researcher Dr. Barbara Phillips. “It’s time to revise global recommendations for improving sleep and put exercise – any time – at the top of our list for healthy sleep habits.”

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