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Exercise and sleep

November 30, 2009

Interesting snippet on the NY Times website today on whether or not exercise helps you sleep.

But physical activity during the day and sleep onset at night were closely linked: every hour of sedentary activity during the day resulted in an additional three minutes in the time it took to fall asleep at night. And the children who fell asleep faster ultimately slept longer, getting an extra hour of sleep for every 10-minute reduction in the time it took them to drift off.

Now the article is mainly talking about a study involving children, but it does link to a couple of papers which suggest a similar effect in adults.

Now I know that my sample of one is fairly meaningless, but I definitely noticed a big change in how long it took me to fall asleep at night when I became more physically active. I suffered from fairly regular bouts of insomnia from the time I was a teenager well into my mid twenties. Now I still sometimes act like some kind of giant toddler when I’m tired; refusing to go to sleep, holding out until I’m so tired that flossing and brushing my teeth takes a huge amount of effort – but once I hit the pillow, I’m generally out in less than fifteen minutes.

I’m interested now though in whether or not there’s any truth to the idea that you shouldn’t exercise past a certain time at night because it will prevent you from falling asleep.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 2, 2009 7:59 am

    Huh. Interesting stuff. I know I sleep BETTER when I get some exercise, although I’ve never tracked how long it takes me to fall asleep. I do know that if I work out within a couple of hours of going to bed though, I have a harder time staying asleep. I fall asleep normally, but I tend to wake up about 2 hours later – and I’m AWAKE. It’s like my body thinks I’ve had a nap and now it’s time to get up again. Sometimes I can offset that by either doing a short workout or by taking a hot bath right before bed, but not always.

  2. stlwtr permalink
    December 2, 2009 9:29 am

    I found it made a surprisingly big difference. I work out mostly in the evenings during the week due to a full time day job and not being a morning person. It hasn’t effected my ability to sleep.

  3. December 7, 2009 10:49 am

    I work out at night and I do not notice a thing. I think that is interesting!

  4. December 9, 2009 5:10 am

    Very interesting.

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