n International SportMed Journal - The influence of exercise on sleep quality




Conventional sleep theories and popular opinion support the concept that exercise improves sleep. Despite equivocal empirical findings, the American Sleep Disorders Association includes exercise as a nonpharmacological component of sleep hygiene. Exercise should be aerobic, moderate to high intensity, last at least 30 minutes (longer in trained subjects), and be conducted 3-6 hours before bedtime if it is to improve sleep by decreasing sleep disruptions, shortening time to fall asleep, and increasing slow-wave sleep. Moderating variables that influence the nature of exercise are difficult to control in empirical studies, restricting interstudy comparisons. Most studies to date have used "good sleepers," so the margin for improvement was limited; more recent studies on sleep-compromised populations demonstrate greater improvements. Whether it is the exercise per se or the attendant improvements in lifestyle, wellbeing, and mood that improve sleep, it appears that structured exercise is a valid component of sleep-hygiene routines.


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