A modest jog or a few dozen laps in the pool may help insomnia patients rediscover restful sleep. A new study published in the June issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine demonstrates how moderate-intensity cardio exercise can improve overall sleep quality.
Exercising 4-8 hours before bedtime helped primary insomnia patients get to sleep faster, wake up less often and increase total time asleep. The authors think the aerobic exercise helps reduce bedtime anxiety.
High intensity aerobic exercise and resistance training led to fewer improvements.
The findings were based on overnight sleep study results along with a daily sleep log.
The study featured a sample of 48 subjects assigned to a control group or one of the three exercise conditions. The participants, ages 30 to 55, all had chronic primary insomnia. Anyone with a medical or psychiatric condition was excluded. People who exercised regularly or worked abnormal shifts were also left out of the study.
The moderate-intensity aerobic exercise group ran at a medium pace on a treadmill for 50 minutes. The high-intensity group ran faster for three ten-minute sessions, each followed by ten minute rest periods. Both groups began with a three minute warm-up session.
Participants assigned to resistance training worked out for 50 minutes. They did nine exercises targeted at different muscle groups. Each involved three sets of 10 repetitions.
Past studies have suggested the insomnia-reducing effects are all mental. Sleep experts regularly recommend exercise to help reduce obstructive sleep apnea.
Image by Matthias Weinberger