"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Looking for more ZZZs? Consistent activity will be the key

April 3, 2024 – Perhaps there's nothing that eludes most individuals on the planet greater than sleep. Sleep deficits They cross borders and seas, affecting tens of millions of individuals all over the world.

In the United States, about one in 4 adults has it insomnia yearly, but fortunately 75% can restore what is taken into account normal Sleep rhythm: go to sleep easily, stay asleep without waking up at night or too early within the morning, and feel refreshed the subsequent day.

An vital solution to overcoming sleep deficits may very well be to remain energetic. Although sleep experts have long touted the advantages of normal exercise as a very important a part of behavioral therapy to treat insomnia, one thing specifically might make it work: consistency.

“It turns out that physical activity can significantly reduce the risk of insomnia symptoms and extreme sleep durations,” said Erla Björnsdóttir, PhD, clinical psychologist and researcher at Iceland's University of Reykjavik. She is the most important writer of 1 new study which examined the association between physical activity and insomnia symptoms in over 4,000 European adults (aged 39 to 67 years) in nine countries.

Study participants had to reply questions on the frequency and duration of physical activity initially of the study and ten years later about physical activity, insomnia symptoms, sleep duration and daytime sleepiness. These measures were collected within the European Community Respiratory Health Surveys II and III, and sleep-related symptoms were measured using validated instruments.

Over a 10-year follow-up period, 25% of respondents reported being consistently energetic (that's, they exercised no less than two to 3 times per week for no less than an hour or more per week). These people were 42% less more likely to have difficulty falling asleep, 22% less more likely to have insomnia symptoms, and 22% less more likely to sleep normally (defined as 6 to 9 hours per night). , was 55% higher.

They were also less more likely to report sleep extremes – short sleep (6 hours or less) or long sleep (9 hours or more), each of which have been linked to daytime sleepiness. Additionally, nearly 21% of people that became energetic in the course of the study were more likely to also change into normal sleepers.

“These results remained significant even after controlling for factors such as age, gender, smoking and body mass index,” said Björnsdóttir.

Sleep patterns, circadian rhythms

Björnsdóttir noted that the study didn't take certain things into consideration, equivalent to the presence of other medical conditions besides sleep problems, age over 67 and declining mobility. These things can affect sleep patterns and overall health, she said.

“There may be reduced returns with age and there may be age-related changes in activity levels over time,” she said, “but research suggests that regular exercise can still provide numerous benefits (e.g. improved sleep quality, cognitive function and general health). -be) in older people who were continuously active,” she said.

Although it stays unclear whether timing activities or specific sorts of activities produces higher results, a current analysis suggested that heavy exercise at night has a negative impact on sleep quality and that exercise within the morning and afternoon may contribute higher to sleep regulation.

The reason? “Timer.”

“'Zeitgeber' is a German term for external cues that help us know when to do things, our circadian rhythm,” said Dr. David Kuhlmann, sleep specialist and medical director of sleep medicine at Bothwell Regional Health Center in Sedalia, MO. For individuals with insomnia, these include maintaining an everyday sleep schedule, avoiding the bedroom aside from sleep and sex, a darkened room, limiting alcohol and caffeine consumption before bed, creating a snug sleep environment, avoiding daytime naps, and regular exercise.

“In general, I recommend morning exercises for people who are trying to fall asleep faster in the evening than right before bed, to avoid movements or delaying their circadian rhythm,” he said. Data has shown that physical activity inside an hour of bedtime disrupts the power to go to sleep (sleep latency), total sleep time, and the ratio of time asleep to time spent in bed (also often called sleep efficiency). This is very true for aerobic exercises that releases endorphins which prevent the brain from calming down.

Kuhlmann also identified the role of body temperature. “The higher your body temperature rises during the day, the lower your body temperature becomes at night and the more slow-wave (i.e., deep) sleep you achieve,” he said. Conversely, a rise in body temperature at night, for instance through intensive physical exertion, increases sends a signal to the interior clock that it's time to be awake. It takes 30 to 60 minutes for core body temperature to drop and promote sleepiness.

The connection between insomnia and activity just isn't a silver bullet

What happens whenever you're an exercise junkie and still can't sleep? Danielle Ricks, director of education and community engagement at Montgomery County Media in Silver Spring, Md., and associate professor at Howard University in Washington, D.C., is one in all those junkies and said sleep is elusive for her.

Ricks shared that her insomnia began after a bout with Crohn's disease and multiple treatments of prednisone.

“Even though I haven't taken medication for two decades, I've never really gotten my sleep habits back under control. “I don’t have trouble falling asleep, but I have trouble staying asleep even though I’ve been exercising regularly for 30 years,” she said. Ricks usually does strength training, aerobics and meditation.

The same goes for Tracy Endo, a swimming instructor and Uber driver from Virginia. Endo, now 58, said she began having trouble sleeping about 15 years ago – problems she said were attributable to stress from hormonal changes and single parenthood. “I wake up at 3:30 a.m. and can't get back to sleep, and that happens on average three or four times a week,” she said.

Like Ricks, physical activity was an everyday a part of Endo's life. “I'm an avid hiker,” she said, noting that she hikes 3 to 4 miles no less than 4 times every week within the winter and far more in the hotter months. Endo also said she was an Ironman triathlete and usually rode her standup paddle board, but her sleep patterns had little change.

For every Ricks or Endo, there are people for whom regular physical activity relieves the symptoms of insomnia. It's vital to do not forget that not everyone who wakes up at night or has trouble falling asleep actually has insomnia. This is one in all the most important explanation why Kuhlmann said he thinks it's vital to set realistic expectations, especially as we become old.