Insomnia helped by exercise ... eventually
When you're not getting enough sleep, exercising every day is not likely to rank very high on the to-do list. However, insomniacs are often recommended to undertake such a program of exercise, as it has been shown to improve sleep quality. That said, a new study from Northwestern University has found that the benefits of daily exercise may not really be seen for up to four months. According to the researchers, exercise for insomnia is a long-term treatment option, and patients are warned not to become discouraged if they don’t see quick results.
While previous exercise-sleep studies have focused on healthy sleepers, the Northwestern study sought to investigate how exercise affects insomniacs in the long-term. After analyzing 11 study participants over a 16-week period, the researchers found that hitting the treadmill or lifting some weights won't necessarily help improve sleep that night, as had once been thought. Instead, while the person may have felt more physically tired, the true benefits weren’t likely be seen right away.
Of course, there is still the issue of exercising when poorly rested. The study found a vicious cycle takes place: poor sleep leads to less exercise, which blocks the long-term benefits of working out. The takeaway from this study was that people need to stick with their exercise programs, as it takes time to re-establish a normal level of brain activity that can facilitate sleep.