A modest jog or a few dozen laps in the pool may help insomnia patients rediscover restful sleep. Research shows moderate intensity aerobic exercise can improve overall sleep quality.
Exercising 4-8 hours before bedtime can help primary insomnia patients get to sleep faster, wake up less often and increase total time asleep. Aerobic exercise may help reduce bedtime anxiety, leading to better sleep.
Past studies have suggested the insomnia-reducing effects are all mental. The physical benefits are clear; sleep experts regularly recommend exercise as part of treatment for obstructive sleep apnea.
When planning an exercise routine there are a few things to consider. Although high intensity aerobic exercise and resistance training such as weight lifting are great for your health, both approaches lead to fewer improvements in sleep quality for insomnia.
Time of exercise is also important. Evening workouts can contribute to insomnia.
The findings are backed by research comparing each type of exercise with the findings from overnight sleep studies and sleep diaries. The study featured a sample of 48 subjects assigned to a control group or one of the three exercise conditions. The participants, aged 30 to 55, all had chronic primary insomnia.
The moderate-intensity aerobic exercise group ran at a medium pace on a treadmill for 50 minutes. The high-intensity group ran at a faster tempo for three ten-minute sessions, with ten minute rest periods between sets. Both groups began with a three minute warm-up session.
Participants assigned to resistance training worked out for 50 minutes. They did nine exercises targeting different muscle groups. Each involved three sets of 10 repetitions.
The evidence is clear: you can better your sleep by exercising right, even if you do not have insomnia. Kids, teenagers and older adults can all benefit from regular physical activity.