More Exercise During The Day Leads To Better Sleep At Night

💡What To Know:

  • Higher levels of daytime physical activity led to participants getting better quality sleep.
  • Simply going to bed earlier may not improve sleep efficiency.
  • Current guidelines recommend 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.

ADELAIDE, Australia — If you’re looking for better sleep at night, you may want to change up your daily schedule. What we do during the day impacts how well we sleep at night, a new study explains.

Individuals dealing with poor sleep often receive advice about the importance of “sleep hygiene” leading to bedtime each night, which includes reducing screen time and avoiding alcohol. However, scientists believe the solution actually lies much earlier in the day, with physical activity playing a crucial role in achieving quality sleep.

Many people find it challenging to either get enough sleep or experience high-quality sleep, which leaves them feeling energized instead of tired. This issue can lead to serious health problems, as sleep deficiency and deprivation have a link to conditions such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and depression.

A study conducted by a team at the University of South Australia offers a straightforward solution. Researchers discovered that the quality of nighttime sleep is closely connected to how one’s day is structured, particularly when it comes to physical exercise.

The study monitored the daily routines and sleep patterns of 1,360 adults and 1,168 children, making adjustments to the participants’ activities to observe the impact on their sleep. Published in the journal Sleep Health, the results revealed that participants with higher levels of moderate to vigorous physical activity experienced less difficulty falling asleep, improved sleep quality, and reduced fatigue.

Woman waking up happy
Researchers discovered that the quality of nighttime sleep is closely connected to how one’s day is structured, particularly when it comes to physical exercise. (© StockPhotoPro –

Lead researcher Dr. Lisa Matricciani emphasized that the findings highlight the significance of our daily activities in relation to sleep quality. She encouraged people to look beyond merely altering their bedtime routines if they wish to enhance their sleep quality.

“Despite what we know about sleep, many people still struggle to achieve a good night’s sleep,” says Dr. Matricciani in a university release.

“When people think about sleep quality, they tend to focus on adjustments immediately before bedtime – for example, avoiding screens, not eating too much, and avoiding alcohol – but our research looks beyond this to the range of activities we undertake during the day,” Matricciani continues.

“What we found is that our daytime activities are tied to different aspects of our sleep, from sleep quality, sleep efficiency (how much of the time you spend in bed when you are actually asleep), and the overall amount of sleep we get, to levels of tiredness during the day, and when we choose to go to bed.”

Dr. Matricciani adds that simply going to bed earlier won’t necessarily increase the efficiency of your sleep.

“Sometimes, the activities we choose might directly displace sleep – think of kids playing video games late into the night – but other times, it’s how we spend our daytime hours,” Matricciani says. “Interestingly, simply making more time for sleep predicted more restless sleep.”

“We found that if children and adults increased moderate to vigorous physical activity, they would feel less tired, have less troubled sleep and better-quality sleep.”

When it comes to kids, current sleep guidelines recommend that teens get between eight and 10 hours of sleep each night. Studies also show that the “sweet spot” for sleep among adults is seven to nine hours.

“Everyone wants a good night’s sleep. If it’s simply a matter of being more active during the day, then it may be a relatively achievable goal for most of us,” Dr. Matricciani concludes.

StudyFinds’ Chris Melore contributed to this report.

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