As we age, a good night’s sleep can sometimes prove elusive no matter how much we need the rest or how our busy lives may tire us out. But a recent study from the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University has some helpful findings that may also benefit your overall health and your waistline.
Conventional wisdom tells us that vigorous exercise will help adults reach a point of fatigue that will insure a good night’s sleep. But data from a 2013 sleep/exercise study found that it’s not quite as simple as that. Researchers studied a small group of sedentary volunteers who had a diagnosis of insomnia; most of the participants were in their 60s. Some of the group began a regular moderate exercise program consisting of three or four 30 minute sessions a week on a treadmill or stationary bike. The second group remained inactive.
It wasn’t until a period of four months that the group who participated in regular moderate exercise reported sleeping at least 45 minutes more each night. Which, according to the New York Times, is better than most treatment options for sleep problems, including medication.
Working out consistently in moderation, three or four times each week, is better for improving sleep quality than more intense bursts of activity only once or twice a week. In fact, high intensity exercise at night, before bedtime, can disrupt sleep. Instead try yoga, strength or stretching exercises in the evening but not too close to the time you go to bed.
It is also recommended that, to help ensure a good night’s sleep, televisions, tablets and phones are turned off a hour before bedtime to minimize exposure to artificial light which can upset our natural circadian rhythm.
To read more about the sleep/exercise study, published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, follow this link.