Well Being

Poll Finds That Exercising And Standing Up More Promote Better Sleep

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Sleep is one of the most basic human needs, yet millions of Americans don't get enough of it most nights. Whether it's due to anxiety, insomnia, work, pain, technology or simply not having enough time, it's been increasingly hard for many of us to just drift off and wake up well-rested the next day. Scientists have long been trying to figure out the best ways to help exhausted folks improve their cycles, and many have noted that working out is a helpful habit to get more rest. Now, there's even more evidence to support the exercise and sleep link.

According to a National Sleep Foundation survey, people who exercise more get better sleep than those who do not exercise regularly — even when they get the same number of hours per night. The poll included 1,000 people, 9% of which reported getting no physical activity whatsoever, 48% said they regularly got light physical activity, 25% stated they were moderately active and 18% said they got regular vigorous exercise. Both the people who exercised and the non-exercisers reported getting 6 hours and 51 minutes of sleep on a workday and 7 hours and 37 minutes of sleep on non-workdays. (Honestly, I was a little surprised with these numbers — I thought the stat of sedentary lifestyles reported would be hire, as well as assuming the amount of sleep to be lower.)

As it turns out, nearly half of the folks who reported not exercising reported fairly or very bad sleep, while that percentage dropped dramatically to just 17% for those who said they got regular vigorous exercise. The respondents who stated they got light exercise still held a vast improvement over the non-exercisers, with just 24% reporting fairly or very bad sleep.

“If you are inactive, adding a 10 minute walk every day could improve your likelihood of a good night’s sleep,” said poll task force chair Max Hirshkowitz, Ph.D. In the event that you're having a hard time sleeping, this could be very valuable advice, and not all that difficult to attain.

Additionally, those who spent less time sitting often got better sleep, with 22 to 25% of people who sat eight or less hours per day reporting “very good” sleep. Just 12 to 15% of who sat more than eight hours each day stated the same.

When it comes to your health, everything is interconnect — your sleep more than nearly everything. Without rest, your body can't heal or process information properly and it's incredibly difficult to stay healthily productive (and sane!). When you don't exercise, your body also doesn't have the opportunity to build enough strength, which also leaves you at a severe disadvantage. As I said the other day, when you're exhausted, it's pretty much impossible not to feel more stressed out about everything around you, thus making sleep and your routine that much harder. While there are a million tricks in the book and expensive products for being more energetic, rested and healthy, more and more evidence is pointing to just what we always thought: good diet, regular exercise and sleep.

Photo: Shutterstock

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