Have you ever noticed how much better you sleep after a day of strenuous physical activity, like an intense workout or a heavy day of yard work? Studies have shown that people sleep significantly better and feel more alert during the day if they get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week.
A nationally-representative sample of more than 2,600 men and women ages 18-85 found that 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per week (the national guideline) provided a 65% improvement in sleep quality. People also said they felt less sleepy during the day as compared to those with less physical activity. The study, put out by the journal Mental Health and Physical Activity, lends more evidence to mounting research showing the importance of exercise to a number of health factors.
Among adults in the United States, about 35 to 40% of the population has problems falling asleep or with daytime sleepiness. Increasingly, the scientific evidence is encouraging as regular physical activity may serve as a non-pharmaceutical alternative to improve sleep. After controlling for age, BMI (Body Mass Index), health status, smoking status, and depression, the relative risk of often feeling overly sleepy during the day compared to never feeling overly sleepy during the day decreased by 65% for participants meeting physical activity guidelines. Similar results were also found for having leg cramps while sleeping (68% less likely) and having difficulty concentrating when tired (45% decrease).
If you’re looking for reasons to incorporate more physical activity into your day-to-day, better sleep quality is high on the list!