Poll Finds Exercise is Key to Good Sleep

Share Article

Exercise can affect your sleep. The National Sleep Foundation’s 2013 Sleep in America® poll shows a compelling association between exercise and better sleep. The poll found that self-described exercisers report better sleep than self-described non-exercisers, even though they say they sleep the same amount each night—an average 6 hours and 51 minutes on weeknights.

Dr. Philip B. Fuller, physician at MWHC's Sleep Medicine Specialists

Exercise can affect your sleep. The National Sleep Foundation’s 2013 Sleep in America® poll shows a compelling association between exercise and better sleep.

The poll found that self-described exercisers report better sleep than self-described non-exercisers, even though they say they sleep the same amount each night—an average 6 hours and 51 minutes on weeknights.

“I tell my patients to try to exercise five days a week for 30 minutes at a time. If they can’t get that much exercise, I tell them to do what they can, and 15 minutes is ok,” says Dr. Philip B. Fuller, a physician at Mary Washington Healthcare’s (MWHC) Sleep Medicine Specialists. “And exercise seems to be one of the only things that’s been shown to reliably increase deep sleep, which has important benefits for memory and energy recovery.”

The not-for-profit National Sleep Foundation has released the 2013 Sleep in America® poll results as part of its annual National Sleep Awareness Week® campaign March 3-10, 2013, which culminates with the change to Daylight Saving Time on March 10th.

According to the poll, vigorous, moderate and light exercisers are significantly more likely to say they “had a good night’s sleep” every night or almost every night on work nights than non-exercisers (67-56 percent vs. 39 percent).

Vigorous exercisers are almost twice as likely as non-exercisers to report having “a good night’s sleep” every night or almost every night during the week. They also are the least likely to report sleep problems.

Non-exercisers tend toward being more excessively sleepy than exercisers. Nearly one-fourth of non-exercisers (24 percent) qualify as “sleepy” using a standard excessive sleepiness clinical screening measure.

Sleepiness clearly interferes with many non-exercisers’ safety and quality of life. One in seven non-exercisers (14 percent) report having trouble staying awake while driving, eating, or engaging in social activity at least once a week in the past two weeks, almost three times the rate of those who exercise (4-6 percent).

Indeed, non-exercisers have more symptoms of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition in which a person stops breathing during sleep. Its symptoms often include tiredness, snoring, and high blood pressure. It also increases the risk for heart disease and stroke.

Healthy Sleep Advice
To improve your sleep, try the following sleep tips:

  •     Exercise regularly. Vigorous exercise is best, but even light exercise is better than no activity. Exercise at any time of day, but not at the expense of your sleep.
  •     Create an environment that is conducive to sleep that is quiet, dark and cool with a comfortable mattress and pillows.
  •     Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual, like a warm bath or listening to calming music.
  •     Go to sleep and wake at the same time every day, and avoid spending more time in bed than needed.
  •     Use bright light to help manage your “body clock.” Avoid bright light in the evening and expose yourself to sunlight in the morning.
  •     Use your bedroom only for sleep to strengthen the association between your bed and sleep. It may help to remove work materials, computers and televisions from your bedroom.
  •     Save your worries for the daytime. If concerns come to mind, write them in a “worry book” so you can address those issues the next day.
  •     If you can’t sleep, go into another room and do something relaxing until you feel tired.
  •     If you are experiencing excessive daytime sleepiness, snoring, or “stop breathing” episodes in your sleep, contact your healthcare professional for a sleep apnea screening.

Mary Washington Healthcare is a fully integrated, regional medical system that provides emergency, inpatient, and outpatient care through over 40 facilities and services, including Mary Washington Hospital, a 437-bed regional medical center, and Stafford Hospital, a 100-bed community hospital. Mary Washington Healthcare is a nonprofit health system and has a long-standing commitment to provide care regardless of ability to pay. For more information about our services and facilities, please log onto http://www.MaryWashingtonHealthcare.com.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Christine Amrhine
Visit website