Inspired living

Exercise breeds sleep


Sleep is at least one of the foundation’s of good health, if not the foundation of good health. In yesterday’s article in this news column we talked about research showing that lack of sleep can predispose you to heart failure. If you read articles like that one and find yourself thinking “I know I need to sleep but how can I do it?!”, then a new study might hold some hope for you. Yes, you can use things like the herb Valerian but even more simply than that, going for a walk each day can improve your sleep quality.

The new findings have come from the US National Sleep Foundation’s 2013 “Sleep in America” survey. The survey used sample of 1,000 adults between the ages of 23 and 60. Participants were classified into four different activity levels: vigorous, moderate, light, and no activity. Vigorous was defined as activities which require hard physical effort such as: running, cycling, swimming or competitive sports. The next level, moderate, was defined as activities which require more effort than normal such as: yoga, tai chi, and weight lifting. Light activity was defined as walking, while those who do not do any activity classified themselves into the no activity level.

People from the vigorous, moderate, or light activity groups were much more likely to report a good quality sleep. Between 56 and 69 per cent of these active people said they had a good night’s sleep compared to only 39 per cent in the non-exercise group. Among these inactive folk, 50 per cent said they woke up during the night and 24 per cent said they had difficulty falling asleep every night, or almost every night. Difficulty falling asleep and a tendency to wake during the night are two of the defining characteristics of insomnia.

Additionally, between 76 and 83 per cent of exercisers said their sleep quality was good in the past two weeks compared to only 56 per cent in the non-exercise group. Based on this it would seem that just going for a 10-15 minute walk each day could improve sleep quality.

The other interesting factor was that exercise seemed to help with sleep regardless of the time of the time of day that the exercise took place. So the bottom line is you need to make time for exercise, don’t sleep on it (although you will), just do it.


Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.