Insomnia is the condition characterized by difficulty in falling asleep or staying asleep through the night. A number of studies have shown that people, who engage in regular exercise, particularly women who exercise regularly, sleep longer at night and have a better quality of sleep. Regular physical exercise promotes relaxation of the body in ways that are beneficial in initiating and maintaining sleep.
Researchers at the Federal University of Sao Paulo in Brazil have shown that moderate aerobic exercise—not heavy aerobic or moderate strength exercises—can help improve the sleep quality of insomnia patients.1 According to the study, there was an increase in the total sleep time (21%), sleep efficiency (18%), reductions in the time to fall asleep (54%) and the wake time (36%), in the exercise group. Additionally, there was a significant reduction (7%) in the anxiety state after a moderate aerobic exercise session, which further adds to the sleep benefits.1
Although initially exercise increases the level of stress hormones in the body, subsequently, there is a decrease in the levels of these hormones within a few hours after exercising. As a result, regular exercise a few hours before bedtime can quickly break the sleep-stress cycle that is commonly noted in individuals suffering from insomnia. In the elderly population too, exercise may enhance sleep and contribute to an increased quality of life.2,3
- The Sleep Quality Of Insomnia Patients Can Be Improved By Moderate Exercise. Available online at: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/111011.php. Accessed on: 12 Jan 09.
- Montgomery P, Dennis J. Physical Exercise for Sleep Problems in Adults Aged 60+. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2002; (4): CD003404.
- King AC, Pruitt LA, Woo S, Castro CM, Ahn DK. Effects of Moderate-intensity Exercise on Polysomnographic and Subjective Sleep Quality in Older Adults with Mild to Moderate Sleep Complaints. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2008; 63(9): 997–1004.