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  • Writer's pictureWilliam Hoekstra, PsyD, LP DBSM

Exercising 2 to 3 Times a Week Reduces Risk of Long-term Insomnia

insomnia, sleep problems, cbt-i

A recent study in the British Medical Journal indicates that exercising 2 to 3 times a week over the long run helps reduce the risk of insomnia and improves our ability to sleep for a lengthier duration needed by our body for restorative rest. The study followed subjects over 10 years and involved 4399 study participants.

 

These data support long-term assumptions that exercise promotes deeper sleep by promoting healthy fatigue. Physical exertion depletes energy stores, leading the body to naturally crave rest. This allows for deeper sleep stage sleep, crucial for restoration and cognitive function. Additionally, exercise helps regulate the body's sleep-wake cycle known as the circadian rhythm. By expending energy during the day, exercise promotes a drop in core body temperature in the evening, a signal for sleepiness.

 

Exercise can also alleviate factors that disrupt sleep, such as stress and anxiety. Physical activity acts as a natural stress reliever, promoting the release of endorphins that improve mood and reduce tension. This stress reduction allows for a calmer mind, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.

 

The benefits of exercise on sleep extend across all age groups. Children with regular physical activity experience better sleep quality, leading to improved focus and learning. Adults who exercise regularly report fewer sleep disturbances and an overall improvement in sleep duration and quality.

 

While the timing of exercise can impact sleep, consistency is key. Avoiding vigorous activity close to bedtime is best as it can be stimulating. However, engaging in moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week is optimal for promoting better sleep.

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