A.N. Sullivan Bisson, S.A. Robinson, & M.E. Lachman
Sleep Health (2019); 5(5): 484-97
Sleep disorders are extremely common, affecting between 50 and 70 million adults. Many people use medications (over the counter and prescription) as sleep aids, which may lead to dependency and often have adverse side effects. Physical activity is known to benefit sleep, but it has not been clear what types of activity are most helpful.
This study investigated whether exercise in the form of daily walking has a positive impact on sleep in healthy adults. Two questions were explored: (1) do subjects that are more active sleep better than those who are less active, and (2) do subjects sleep better on the days when they are more active?
Who was it?
There were 59 adults (average age 49 years) that participated in this study. All subjects worked full-time and self-reported walking less than 1 hour per day.
What was done?
Subjects were randomly assigned to one of two groups: (1) an exercise group, which was instructed to take 2000 more daily steps than usual, or (2) a control group, which was given no specific exercise advice. Physical activity was measured with the Fitbit Zip, which measured daily steps and active minutes across light, moderate, and vigorous activity. Sleep was measured using a validated survey that assessed both sleep duration and sleep quality. The study ran for four weeks, and data was collected each day.
Subjects that were more active had better sleep quality than those who were less active. On days when subjects were more active, they slept better and for longer than on days when they were less active. Women experienced a more positive impact of activity on their sleep than men.
This study shows that there is an easy, inexpensive way to improve sleep – just go for a walk! Low-impact physical activity is easy to incorporate into your daily routine and can be combined with other sleep-boosting non-pharmacological interventions like CBD and meditation.