Exercise May Help You Catch Those Elusive Zs

Dr. Cindy Haines Health Guide
  • Lack of sleep -or lack of enough quality sleep- has been linked to a whole host of medical issues, including problems with weight loss and weight maintenance. And sleep has been a hot topic for quite some time.


    In fact, even Ben Franklin was known for sharing words of wisdom about the importance of a good night's sleep. But here's some advice he left out:

    "Get a workout during the day, and you'll sleep the night away."

    Americans are a sleep-deprived group of people, in general. In a new study from the journal Mental Health and Physical Activity, researchers point out that up to 40 percent of American adults feel sleepy during the day or have trouble falling asleep. Another problem across the country is that too few of us get enough physical activity during the day.

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    These common issues may go hand-in-hand.


    In the study, the researchers looked at results from more than 3,000 adults who took part in national surveys. All agreed to wear a device on their waist for a week to measure their physical activity. The volunteers also answered a bunch of questions about how they slept and whether they felt sleepy during the day.

    The results showed that people who do the recommended amount of physical activity each week (3½ hours of moderate-intensity, one and one-quarter hours of vigorous activity, or a combination of the two) were less likely to:


    • Have trouble falling asleep
    • Have a doctor-diagnosed sleep disorder
    • Wake up too early in the morning
    • Feel excessively sleepy during the day
    • Have leg cramps while they were sleeping
    • Have trouble concentrating when they were tired


    Sleep specialists often recommend that people who are having trouble snoozing should get more exercise. How can physical activity help? According to the authors of this study, falling asleep is linked to a drop in body temperature. When you exercise, your body heats up, then later your temperature falls.

    However, make sure that your exercise session isn't scheduled too close to bedtime. You want to make sure that you give yourself enough time for your temperature to fall after your workout. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that you exercise earlier in the day - at least several hours prior to your scheduled bed time.


    For even more tips on how to get better health and need the health care system less, check out: The New Prescription: How to Get the Best Health Care in a Broken System by Dr. Cynthia D. Haines, M.D. (Dr. Cindy Haines) and Eric Metcalf, M.P.H.

Published On: December 06, 2011