Regular exercise is associated with less insomnia, study shows CNN

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Tired of a restless night spent awake? One of the healthiest things to do might be to exercise, according to a new study.

Physically active people have a lower risk of insomnia symptoms and extreme sleep duration, both long and short, said the study’s lead author, sleep expert Dr. Erla Bjrnsdttir and part-time professor and researcher at Reykjavík University.

The study published Tuesday in the journal BMJ Open analyzed data from more than 4,300 people aged 39 to 67 over a 10-year period.

Bjrnsdttir is affiliated with a sleep app that tracks sleep and offers tips and resources for better sleep. The company did not fund this study and the authors report no competing interests.

Participants from nine European countries were surveyed about their frequency, intensity and duration of physical activity, as well as their insomnia symptoms, amount of sleep each night and feeling sleepy during the day.

Those who were persistently active were 55% more likely to be normal sleepers than those who slept 6 to 9 hours a night, and those who became active during the time period were 21% more likely to sleep usually after adjusting for age, sex and body mass index. (BMI) and smoking history, the study said.

The results are strong on their own, but they are also supported by an existing body of literature, said Dr. David Neubauer, an associate professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He did not participate in the investigation.

Our results are in line with previous studies that have shown a beneficial effect of physical activity on insomnia symptoms, but the current study also shows the importance of consistency in exercise over time, he said. Bjrnsdttir in an email. Therefore, it is important to be physically active throughout life in order to reduce the risk of insomnia and short sleep duration.

The study may give healthcare professionals another tool alongside medication and therapy, said Dr. Shalini Paruthi, co-director of the Center for Sleep Medicine and Research at St. Lukes of Chesterfield, Missouri, and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. She did not participate in the investigation.

It gives us insight into something we might not always think about for insomnia treatment, Paruthi said.

There are many reasons why physical activity can help you rest well.

Exercise has been shown to improve the quality and duration of sleep by promoting relaxation, reducing stress and improving mood. Physical activity helps regulate the body’s internal clock and promotes deeper, more restful sleep, Bjrnsdttir said.

This study doesn’t prove by itself that adding exercise will reduce insomnia symptoms because it didn’t get a clear baseline of sleep quality before the activity was added, Neubauer said.

However, there is still good evidence.

There is literature suggesting that people who start being more physically active and exercising more tend to improve their nighttime sleep in terms of total sleep time and their ability to fall asleep, he said.

It’s important to note, however, that people who have had insomnia for a long time probably won’t find that exercise completely cures their condition on its own, Paruthi added.

And it will vary individually, with some people seeing amazing results, others moderate, and a group of people may see no improvement at all, he said.

Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia is the most effective tool out there for treating insomnia, so people with more severe sleep problems may also want to look into it, Paruthi added.

You don’t have to start running marathons to get the benefit. Just get started, experts said.

Even moderate-intensity exercise, such as walking or yoga, can have significant positive effects on sleep, Bjrnsdttir said.

Paruthi has seen from her patients that there are always obstacles to being more active, but that any amount helps.

Even if you can only walk two houses to the left, come back and walk two houses to the right, that’s a good start, he said. Even if you do five minutes a day, you just have to start somewhere.

If you want to make your activity even more helpful to your circadian rhythm, you can go outside in the sunlight, Neubauer said.

Both being outdoors and being physically active can have a positive effect on our circadian rhythm. And it’s our circadian rhythm that promotes sleep at night and alertness during the day, he said.

The extent to which people can modify their lifestyles to be more active and outdoors and get more light certainly has the potential to have a positive effect on nighttime sleep.

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