Sleep & Exercise – A Long Term Relationship

Don’t think that going to the gym randomly will help you sleep better that night.  A recent analysis of people with insomnia revealed that the benefits of exercise as a way to improve your sleep come only after months of regular activity.

Kelly Glazer Baron, a clinical psychologist and director of the behavioral sleep program at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, said it takes about four months of regular aerobic exercise to result in sleep improvement.

For the study, Baron and her fellow researchers analyzed previously published data from a 2010 clinical trial on the connections between exercise and sleep. They looked at the daily activities and sleep logs over a 16-week period for nearly a dozen women, ages 57 to 70, who were dealing with insomnia. Older women tend to have higher rates of insomnia, which is defined as difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, as well as having trouble functioning throughout the day because of the lack of sleep.

They discovered that only after months of persistent exercise — the women typically walked on a treadmill several times a week — did the patients begin to experience more restful nights. Over time, the women began sleeping about 45 minutes more per night, on average.

Exercise is always preferable to medication, as it provides numerous benefits beyond helping you get a good night’s rest.  However, exercise is a commitment you must make and it can be very challenging to go to the gym if you haven’t slept well the night before.  Nonetheless, the effort will be well worth it!

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