Move More, Sleep Better and Longer

Move More, Sleep Better and Longer

Moderate bursts of aerobic exercise help insomnia

(Spine-Health.com) -- New research presented at the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS) shows that “an acute session of moderate aerobic exercise, but not heavy aerobic or moderate strength exercises” can improve the amount and quality of sleep for people with insomnia (without resorting to pharmaceutical sleep-aids).

What exactly does "acute" mean in this context? Merriam-Webster defines acute as “having a sudden onset, sharp rise, and short course”, so “moderate, but not heavy, aerobic exercise” is like a brisk 20-30 minute walk.

In this new research, 36 patients, all with primary chronic insomnia, were divided into four groups:

  • Moderate aerobic exercise (e.g. walking)
  • Intense aerobic exercise (e.g. running)
  • Moderate strength exercise (e.g. pilates)
  • A control group (no exercise)
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Of the above 4 groups, the moderate aerobic exercise group (exercise walking) showed the most sleep improvements:

  • 54% reduction in time it takes to fall asleep
  • 36% less awake time during the night
  • 37% increase in total sleep time

These findings highlight the importance of moderate physical exercise to help treat insomnia.

In general, about 30 percent of adults are thought to have symptoms of insomnia. It is more common among elderly people, women, and those suffering from a pain condition.

Source: American Academy of Sleep Medicine

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