November/December 2000

Working Toward a Better Night's Sleep

Looking for a natural means to promote deep, restful sleep? Try exercise.

"In both men and women, regular activity or exercise was associated with a reduced risk of disorders of initiating and maintaining sleep", concluded a recent study by investigators at the Respiratory Science and Sleep Disorders Center of the University of Arizona in Tucson.

The researchers analysed data from 722 men and women who were questioned about their patterns of both exercise and sleep, and their findings were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

People who said they walked more than six blocks per day had 33 percent fewer sleep disturbances than those who walked less, the study found. And people who walked those blocks at a brisk pace cut their risk for sleep disturbance in half. Exercising at least once per week reduced the likelihood of sleep disorders or daytime tiredness by about 37 percent. While the means by which exercise affects sleep are not clear, sleep experts speculate that physical activity's effect on the body's core temperature plays a key role.

Exercise raises the temperature for several hours, after which it drops to a lower level than it would have without exercise. When people work out five or six hours before bedtime, their temperature drops just as they are ready to drift off to sleep.

To use exercise as a sleep enhancer, experts recommend that you:

By C. Krucogg, Washington Post, via Metro Maryland and Saskatoon, Nov. 2000, via Inside Out On-line Nov/Dec 2000.

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