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Does Exercise Impact Sleep or it is the Other Way Around? Let us find out

If you or anyone in your family suffers from a sleep disorder, you might have heard the doctor say, exercise more to sleep better. However, a new study says that exercise will help you, but you got to wait for a few months to see the results.

About the Study

This study was published in The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Dr. Kelly Baron, a sleep researcher along with her colleagues closely monitored the day-to-day relationship between exercise and sleep. A study of exercise and sleep that was originally published in the year 2010 was their reference source.

The previous study was conducted on a small group of women, who were diagnosed with sleep disorders. They were mostly in the age group of 60 and led a sedentary lifestyle. The researchers then divided the participants into two groups. One group was asked to live the same sedentary lifestyle, while the other group was put on a moderate exercise program. Researchers monitored the daily activities and the sleep logs of participants for a period of 16 weeks.

What were the findings from the study?

Researchers found that there was no immediate effect of exercise on sleep. Even after two months of regular exercising, there was no improvement. Only after four months, the exercising participants were able to sleep for 45 minutes to an hour longer than before, and woke up less often.

They also found that participants barely slept better on those nights when they had a rigorous exercise schedule during the day. Moreover, they exercised for a short duration the next day due to lack of sleep the previous night.

In other words, a poor night’s sleep affects the next day workout, while a rigorous exercise schedule fails to produce a better sleep. Therefore, they reached to a conclusion that continuous exercise lengthens the sleep.

Why it takes longer for exercise to result in a better sleep?

Phyllis Zee, another author of the same study says that there is a heightened level of brain activity in insomniacs. Hence, it takes more time to regain the normal levels that can facilitate better sleep. He further added that although there are medications that can induce quick sleep, yet exercise is a much healthier option, as it addresses the underlying cause.

Dr. Baron stated, as insomniacs are neurologically different, a single day exercise could not give them a restful sleep. She further added that if the exercise schedule is however continued, a person’s stress response changes and he could then enjoy a restful sleep.

Excerpts from a Past Research

Timing of exercise also has an impact on the quality and quantity of sleep. According to The National Sleep Foundation, exercising at least three hours before retiring to bed will allow the body to cool down and hence, one could enjoy a good night’s sleep.

Key Messages for Insomniacs

Dr. Baron said it is not the end of the road for insomniacs, even if they do not see any positive results from exercising. Do not give up. The results would come; you only need to have patience. Moreover, it is important to find an inspiration when you do not feel like working out. One simple, but very effective way to inspire you is, write a note “Just Do It” on your mirror. It will surely help in the long run.