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Even Minimal Exercise Will Make You Sleep Better, Says New Study

Exercise definitely wipes you out at the end of the day, but a new study by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) shows that people who participated in even light daily exercise reported getting better sleep than people who didn’t exercise at all. This study had nothing to do with how long participants slept — they all reported an average of about seven hours during the week and seven-and-a-half hours on the weekends — and everything to do with how productive the sleep was.

"Some of the more frequent causes of being sleepy are obesity, diabetes, and smoking," says Matthew Buman, Ph.D., assistant professor of exercise and wellness at Arizona State University and NSF poll task force member, "and we know that regular exercise can help to improve each of these things."

The study polled 1,000 participants on three different aspects of their daily grind compared to their reported quality of sleep: how much they exercised, how much they sat, and how often they found themselves getting sleepy during the day. Across the board, the results showed significant improvement in sleep quality between people who reported no activity whatsoever and those who exercised even a little bit throughout their day. This could be anything from walking to a friend’s desk instead of sending an email, or walking to the grocery store instead of driving.

"Just moving a little bit might not be enough to drop pounds,” says Michael A. Grandner, Ph.D. an instructor of psychiatry and a member of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine program at the University of Pennsylvania, “but it can help improve your sleep, which itself has a lot of important, downstream positive effects.”

If you are a gym rat, you should already be sleeping better than most, but Gradner recommends leaving your workout for about an hour or two before bed for the best sleep results.

Source: National Sleep Foundation

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03.7.2013 / 05:28 AM EDT by Emmalie Vance
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