Sleep and Exercise: Exercise and its Effects on Insomnia

As gym members, we all know that exercise is a vital key to living a healthy and full life. We also know that sleep is necessary to perform even the most remedial tasks correctly. As the mother of a one year old, I have experienced my share of sleepless nights and I have a special place in my heart for those with sleep disorders! According to the National Sleep Foundation, Insomnia, which is defined as difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep, waking up too early in the morning, or nonrestorative sleep, is the most common sleep disorder among adults. Surprisingly, only a handful of studies have been conducted to show what the benefits of regular exercise have on sleep habits. However, according to a 2013 New York Times article outlining a study by Dr. Kelly Baron, “sleep might have more of an effect on exercise, than exercise has on sleep”, at least in the short term.

 

According to Dr. Baron’s study, which involved mainly women in there 60s who had already been diagnosed with insomnia and lived a fairly sedentary lifestyle, after the first two months of their new exercise program, the women observed no noticeable changes in their quality / quantity of sleep. Not what you thought I was going to tell you, huh? I must say, as I began my research for this post, I had the expectation that I was going to point you to some medical journal with a study showing that exercise is THE cure for insomnia and that you would be sleeping like my daughter (see picture below) in no time! Don’t despair, however. There is a silver lining for those of you who suffer from insomnia, although I should warn you that it is not the instant cure you may have been seeking.

 

Carina, the sleep champ!

Carina, the sleep champ!

 

If you or someone you know is a chronic sufferer of insomnia and you / they do not exercise, it’s time to start. Do not be discouraged if the benefits aren’t immediate, which goes for all expectations regarding exercise. You may not feel 100% about your workout the day after a broken night’s sleep and there is no guarantee, in the immediate at least, that you will sleep better after you have exercised. The process is gradual and less instantly gratifying than one with insomnia might hope, but the benefits, being an additional 45 minutes to an hour or longer uninterrupted periods of  sleep, do develop over time.

 

– Lauren at #teamOCTO

 

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