Study Examines How Exercise Improves Quality of Sleep

While many individuals may consider that sleep is one of those things they “just have to do”, the truth is that a good night’s sleep can be immensely pleasurable and, as it turns out, highly beneficial to one’s overall health.  Unfortunately, many adults can find that actually achieving the high-quality sleep they deeply desire can be quite difficult–and frustrating.  Fortunately, the solution may actually be simple: exercise more.

Improving Sleep through Exercise

A new study published recently in the Mental Health and Physical Activity journal indicates that people tend to get higher quality sleep and therefore feel more alert during the day if they exercise for at least one hundred fifty minutes every week.  The study reviewed more than twenty-six hundred men and women between the ages of eighteen and eighty-five and discovered that those individuals who participated in at least one hundred fifty minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each week experienced a sixty-five percent improvement in the quality of their sleep.  Furthermore, those individuals who did exercise regularly apparently felt less sleepy during the day compared to less active individuals.

It is estimated that anywhere between thirty-five to forty percent of the adult population in our country has problems either with falling asleep or with daytime sleepiness issues. Brad Cardinal, a professor of exercise science at Oregon State University and one of the study’s authors, points out that there is now scientific evidence to support the fact that regular exercise is a safe, healthy and non-pharmaceutical way for individuals to improve their sleep.  Participants who met the basic guidelines for weekly exercise found that there was a sixty-five percent reduction in feeling overly sleepy during the day, a sixty-eight percent reduction in experiencing leg cramps while sleeping, and a forty-five percent reduction in having difficulty concentrating when tired.

The lead author of the study, Bellarmine University assistant professor Paul Loprinzi, says that the study clearly indicates that regular exercise throughout the week can not only improve an individual’s sleep, but potentially also improve their focus and their work or school productivity. Considering that regular exercise can improve the quality of one’s sleep and also has a number of other highly valuable health benefits, it seems clear that an individual would actually do far better to go forward with their exercise regimen, even if they are tired, than they would to skip it just to go to bed.

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