Do you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep? Do you get less sleep than you need or does the quality of your sleep suffer? If so, you have lots of company. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that more than 25% of Americans report occasional lack of sleep, and 10 % of the population experiences chronic insomnia.
If you have trouble sleeping, you might have tried cutting down on screen time in the hour or two before bed, going to bed and waking up at the same time every day or getting tested for sleep apnea. Often developing good sleep hygiene habits can help your body know when it's time to sleep. But have you tried getting the recommended amount of exercise? It turns out that regular, moderate physical activity, like that recommended by the ACSM's guidelines for physical activity, can help you sleep better.
A new study published in the journal Mental Health and Physical Activity found that 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise provided a 65% improvement in sleep quality.* The study of 2600 men and women aged 18-85 used accelerometers to measure actual activity levels (vs. self-reported activity levels), and controlled for BMI, health status, smoking status and depression. In addition to improving sleep quality, meeting the recommended physical activity levels also led to decreases in leg cramps during sleep and to decreased levels of difficult concentrating when tired.
According to study co-author Brad Cardinal, "Increasingly, the scientific evidence is encouraging as regular physical activity may serve as a non-pharmaceutical alternative to improve sleep."
Regular exercise places demands on your body that require rest and recovery, so it makes sense that regular exercise will help you sleep longer and more soundly. I know I can always tell how good my workout was the day before by how deeply I have to crawl my way out of sleep the following morning.
Have you tried regular exercise in an attempt to sleep better?
*Oregon State University (2011, November 22). Physical activity impacts overall quality of sleep. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 30, 2011, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2011/11/111122143354.htm
(photo credit: Marie-Lan Nguyen)