Alternative treatment for chronic insomnia: does exercise help you sleep?
Alternative treatment for chronic insomnia: does exercise help you sleep?

Alternative treatment for chronic insomnia: does exercise help you sleep?

Do you have trouble sleeping? Are you exhausted all the time? If so, you’re not alone. A lot of people are struggling with sleep deprivation these days. And if you’re one of them, you may be wondering what you can do to fix the problem. Well, it turns out that exercise may be the answer! Recent studies have shown a surprising connection between exercise and sleep. It seems that regular exercise can help improve sleep quality and duration. So if you’re looking for a way to get more restful sleep, try hitting the gym or going for a run!

Exercise interventions

Effects of Acute Exercise

moderate aerobic exercise training

Acute exercise is an activity that happens only once. The sleep evaluation is frequently carried out on the same day as the acute workout in this sort of research. We can observe the effects of exercise on sleep by performing a sleep study like this one.

Several studies have shown that acute exercise in good sleepers improves their sleep patterns; however, because of ceiling/floor effects, these studies have mostly focused on good sleepers with a limited potential for improvement. Youngstedt et al. conducted a meta-analysis and found that overall sleep duration (TST) increased by about 9.9 minutes and wake after sleep onset (WASO) was reduced by about 2.1 minutes in good sleepers following acute exercise.

Only one research has investigated the effects of acute exercise in people with chronic primary insomnia. The benefits of acute exercise are more apparent in persons with insomnia than those who get enough sleep, which is to be expected. Moderate aerobic activity (walking), intensive aerobic activity (jogging), and moderate resistance activity (weight training) were evaluated.

Only after moderate aerobic exercise sessions were significant effects observed. Polysomnography (PSG) data indicated a decrease in sleep onset latency (SOL – 55%) and total wake time (TWT – 30%), as well as an increase in overall sleep time (TST – 18%). TST and SOL also showed similar results, with a 15% reduction in pre-sleep anxiety seen following moderate-intensity aerobic exercise.

Effects of chronic (Short- and Long-term) exercise

sleep disorders

A chronic exercise is a form of activity. When evaluating the impact of chronic exercise, sleep evaluation isn’t done on an exercise day. In this respect, sleep changes may be long-term (effects seen on days with and without exercise). Sleep has been studied in connection to short-term or long-term activity.

Long-term exercise has been investigated in people with chronic insomnia or issues of sleeplessness. In 1995, Guilleminault et al. published the first research on the effects of aerobic exercise in adult patients with chronic psychophysiological insomnia. After four weeks, sleep hygiene counseling plus moderate aerobics (walking) were studied.

The results indicated a trend toward longer TST-sleep diaries (mean [SD], from 299 to 324 min), TST-actigraphy (from 328 min to 345 min), SOL sleep diary (from 58 min to 47 min), SOL actigraphy (from 33).

Some researchers have focused on the impact of exercise on sleep in elderly people and older adults with sleep issues, often based on the idea that exercise has the greatest potential to improve age-related sleep problems. This research mostly looked at subjective sleep as measured by sleep diaries and/or questionnaires.

In a review of studies assessing individuals living in nursing homes or assisted living facilities who typically have disrupted sleep, the outcomes were mixed. In nursing home residents, Alessi et al. discovered no change in sleep quality as assessed by actigraphy after a nine-week exercise program (which included sit-to-stand repetitions and/or transferring as well as walking or wheelchair propulsion).

Three months of circuit weight training resulted in subjective sleep benefits but not six months of training, according to Ferris et al. However, exercise has been shown to assist with the disruption of the rest-activity rhythm as well as mood disturbances in this subset.

In a later work, King et al. investigated sleep complaints among older persons. They discovered that after 16 weeks of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, the total score of the “Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) (mean [SD], from 8.7 [3.0] to 5.4 [2.8], effect size – ES = -1.1) and self-reported SOL (from 28.4 [20.2] min to 14.6 [13.0] min), as well as reported sleep duration (6 0 1 h to 6 7 0 1 h, ES = 0 .72) improved significantly in this population compared with controls who were inactive or exercised at low intensity.

When compared with data reported by Guilleminault et al., the relationship outcomes in this research were more significant.

In another research, King et al. found that the exercise group had greater 12-month gains in terms of the PSQI sleep disturbance subscale score (from 1.47 [0.51] to 1.31 [0.47]) (from 38.44 [23.32] min to 26.02 [18.5] min) and feeling more refreshed in the morning (3.58 [1.14] to 4.42 [1 .52]).

The effects of moderate aerobic exercise in older adults diagnosed with chronic primary insomnia (by DSM-IV) were studied by Reid et al. After 16 weeks, the athletic group’s PSQI global sleep quality improved (from 10.0 [12.3] to 5.0 [6.3]), their sleep latency (from 1.6 [1.3] to 1.0 [0.9]), their sleep duration (from 2.0 [0.7] to 1.1 [0), daytime dysfunction (from 1.3[ 0 .5] to 0 .5)), and sleep efficiency PSQI sub-scores compared with the control group after a month of training (n = 50).

The exercise group also had lower depressive symptoms (from 9.5 [18.0] to 2.8 [4.3]), more vitality/quality of life (from 55.0 [21.6] to 80.5 [10.9]), and reduced daytime sleepiness (from 9.2 [14.9] to 5.1 [7,7]). Furthermore, a higher reduction in global PSQI scores was associated with a greater decrease in depressive symptoms when controlling for depression.) There was still a significant relationship between the physical activity group and the change in PSQI scores after accounting for depression.)

Recently, we carried out an open study of 6 months’ duration on sleep, quality of life, and mood in middle-aged individuals with chronic primary insomnia. We also investigated whether these benefits varied depending on the time of day exercised. All subjective sleep and polysomnography data showed no significant variations across times of the day.

Following exercise, polysomnography data revealed significant reductions in SOL (mean [SE], from 17.1 [2.6] min to 8.7 [1.4] min; p<0.01), as well as an improvement in sleep efficiency (from 79.8 [3.0]% to 87.2 [1.6]). Sleep diary data showed a significant increase in SOL (from 76.2 [21.5] min to 80.3 [7.4]), sleep quality (from 41 .5 percent to 59 .4 percent), and degree of feeling rested in the morning (from 50 .8 percent to 65 %).

Following exercise, several quality of life indicators improved significantly, as well as significant drops in POMS tension and anxiety (from 7.2 [1.0] to 3.5 [1.0]), depression (from 5.9 [1.2] to 3.3 [1.1]), and overall mood disturbance (from 9.2 [4.8] to -1.7 [4.8]).

The morning’s cortisol levels were higher than those in the afternoon. Cortisol was also present at significantly lower amounts during this stage of sleep. There were no differences in these effects by the time of day. Surprisingly, despite not being diagnosed as depressed, the participants experienced decreases in symptoms of depression. In addition, we found a link between gains in subjective sleep and depressive symptoms even after taking into account depression.

Additional research is needed on the impact of aerobic exercise training in persons with chronic primary insomnia and in other age groups. Furthermore, to complement the existing evidence supporting the health benefits of exercise for insomniacs, additional types of exercise and degrees of intensity should be investigated.

Resistance exercises (weight training) are among the exercise routines used in therapies for sleep-related issues in the elderly. Singh et al. conducted a 10-week randomized controlled trial with depressed elders aged 60 years and older who had major or minor depression or dysthymia as a diagnosis.

A group of participants who had been diagnosed with moderate to severe knee pain was assigned to a healthy diet and exercise intervention. This study’s findings were published in the journal Annals of Behavioral Medicine. at least three times per week, supervised weight training was delivered as part of the treatment. All subjective sleep quality and depression measures showed significant improvements. The reduction in depression symptoms was approximately twice as great among those assigned to the intervention compared with those assigned to control groups. In the study group, overall PSQI scores improved significantly (p < 0 ,001). Forward stepwise multiple regression analysis revealed that the percentage decrease in sadness and increase in strength were still significant predictors of improvement in total PSQI score ( p = 0,018).

Many individuals find it difficult to fall asleep when they exercise, but new research indicates that it may be beneficial. In a study of older persons with sleep complaints, the effects of exercise on intraindividual variation in sleep were investigated. After 12 months of activity training, the researchers found that night-to-night fluctuations in self-reported time to fall asleep had decreased. Based on this finding, we can infer that physical activity improves sleep quality and reduces intraindividual variation in initial insomnia, regardless of timing or waking time.

Exercise tires the body

sleep medicine

Sleeping can help you decompress and unwind after a hard day at work, but it also increases the pressure to sleep that builds up throughout the day. While you’re awake, this pressure – also known as your homeostatic sleep drive – rises. When you fall asleep, your sleep drive is reset, ready to start again when you wake up the next day.

However, physically demanding work may speed up the sleep drive, but physical activity is preferable for better sleep quality. This is due to the fact that those who have jobs with strong physical demands are more prone to musculoskeletal discomfort, which may cause sleeplessness.

Exercise helps you fall asleep faster

sleep medicine

Anxiety before going to sleep is a common experience for many individuals, particularly those who suffer from sleeplessness. Anxiety about sleep can condition people to link their bed with stress and worry over time, which can exacerbate these anxious feelings. Physical exercise may help relieve anxiety by both biological and psychological methods.

Aerobic exercise, resistance training, yoga, and tai chi are all forms of activity that appear to help senior citizens sleep better. Aerobic exercise, resistance training, yoga, and tai chi have all been shown to assist older adults get more restful sleep. Exercising the brain as well as the body may result in improved restful sleep.

Outdoor exercise reinforces circadian rhythms

sleep improvement

Bright light, especially in the morning, can help to regulate your body’s internal clock and promote sleep at night. According to certain studies, going for a walk outside in the morning may assist to strengthen these natural rhythms. Because circadian rhythms tend to weaken with age, this advantage may be particularly useful for elderly people.

Natural light has a significant impact on circadian rhythm. Daylight entering your eyes sends messages to your circadian clock, which causes cortisol and adrenaline to be produced, keeping you awake. When the sun sets in the evening, your body synthesizes melatonin, a hormone that makes you sleepy and calm. People who have trouble sleeping may get more rest by being exposed to natural light while they are awake; therefore, going exercise outside during the day may both boost sleep and help with sleep problems in two distinct ways.

What type of exercise is best for sleep?

Aerobic exercise & cardio

healthy sleep

Aerobic exercise raises your heart rate and blood flow, and it may also lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Aerobic exercise7 has been found to be particularly beneficial for individuals who suffer from insomnia or other sleep problems. Aerobic exercise can improve overall sleep quality, as well as total sleep duration and the ability to fall asleep quickly. According to some researchers, aerobic activity might help people with insomnia relax faster, resulting in sedative effects.

For several hours, moderate- to high-intensity activity has been linked to decreased anxiety. In one experiment, a single session of moderate-intensity aerobic activity reduced the anxiousness of individuals with insomnia considerably. This form of exercise also cut the time it took people to fall asleep in half while extending overall sleep duration.

Resistance training

healthy sleep

Aerobic exercises are not the only form of exercise that may help you get more sleep. Lifting weights and other resistance training may provide the same advantages as running. It’s been established that any muscle-strengthening activity (MSE) is linked to improved sleep quality.

Resistance training is a type of exercise that involves your muscles working against a weight or force. This form of activity includes:

  • Lifting weights
  • Using resistance bands
  • Bodyweight workouts like pull-ups


healthy sleep

Yoga can help people relax and de-stress, as well as enhance their mental and physical health. It emphasizes meditation, breathing, and holding various postures. According to research, yoga may help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression while also promoting mental well-being. It has also been found in numerous studies involving patients with cancer or menopause symptoms to improve sleep.

When is the best time to exercise for sleep?

Everyone’s sleep responds to exercise in a different way, so there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach that will guarantee to improve your sleep. That said, studies have revealed that early morning aerobic activity helps you fall asleep faster, enhances your quality of sleep, and lowers the time you spend awake at night than afternoon or evening activities. Light exercises such as stretching or yoga can also help you relax before bed without injuring your muscles.

Exercising in the morning is best for sleep

Although morning exercise has the same impact on your heart rate as evening exercise, it does so in a different way. Morning activity has been connected to an increase in low-frequency, high-frequency, and very low-frequency heart rate activity. This equilibrium encourages parasympathetic nervous system functioning during sleep, which is linked to calm and relaxation.

In contrast, the evening exercise-induced increase in heart rate is considered to promote sympathetic activity, which is linked to stress and “fight or flight” emotions. Researchers have proposed that exercising early in the day allows time for the body to calm down and activate the parasympathetic nervous system, allowing one to relax before sleep. As a result, morning exercise is thought to lead to more restful sleep than evening activity.

Nighttime exercise can decrease REM sleep

Researchers have discovered physiological changes that occur after nighttime activity. One of these is a rise in body temperature, which can disrupt the natural decrease in core temperature that takes place as part of the 24-hour circadian cycle. Evening exercise may also increase the heart rate, and studies show that people who work out at night tend to have fewer instances of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep deprivation. These variations haven’t been observed as often in morning exercisers.

Exercising at night may be the most practical option for you, depending on your daily routine. While some people find that moderate exercise before bedtime helps them fall asleep, most experts believe that rigorous physical activity can make it more difficult to fall asleep, reduce total sleep time, and have a negative impact on sleep efficiency.

This is not to suggest that all nighttime activity is dangerous or unhealthy. Resistance exercise improved sleep in healthy college-aged individuals, whether they worked out in the morning, afternoon, or evening, according to research. Those who exercised first thing in the morning fell asleep faster, but those who exercised late at night slept more soundly and awoke less frequently throughout the night.

Timing high-intensity workouts

Moderate- or high-intensity exercises are the most common. The majority of workouts fall into this category. You’ll need to take a breather after speaking only a few words while doing high-intensity activities, such as running or jogging, lap swimming, cycling at least 10 miles, or hiking uphill.

High-intensity exercise before bedtime has been proven to raise heart rate and delay sleep onset, making it more difficult to fall asleep. In one research, a group of physically fit men did either a moderate- or high-intensity workout before going to bed. Those who exercised harder had a higher heart rate and took 14 long minutes to fall asleep than those who performed a moderate-intensity workout.

However, certain research has indicated the opposite: that strenuous activity may aid in a deeper sleep. When a group of physically active adults exercised 90 minutes before bed, those who felt they had worked out harder had more restorative deep sleep than those who felt they had worked out less. They also fell asleep faster, awoke less during the night, and spent less time awake in bed.

The best time to engage in high-intensity exercise may be determined by chronotype, which is a person’s biological disposition for sleeping early or late in the day. Morning people or “larks” typically get up and go to bed earlier, whereas evening people or “owls” prefer to retire later. According to on one research, chronotypes have an influence on athletic performance at various times of day and night; suggesting that individuals should consider scheduling their high-intensity workouts depending on whether they are a morning or evening person.


Different people may find that different types of exercise are more beneficial for sleep. Though vigorous activity before bedtime can make it difficult to fall asleep, moderate or high-intensity workouts may provide deeper sleep for some people. It’s important to listen to your body and experiment with different activities to see what helps you get the most restful slumber.

Also Freqnse Question

Can exercise give you insomnia?

No, exercise does not give you insomnia. In fact, recent research has shown that regular exercise may actually improve sleep quality for some people. However, intense or vigorous workouts close to bedtime can make it more difficult to fall asleep. For the best night’s rest, try working out earlier in the day or scheduling your most strenuous exercises.

Why can't I sleep after exercise?

Exercise can make it more difficult to fall asleep because it raises your heart rate and body temperature. However, this response varies depending on the person. Some people find that moderate exercise before bed helps them sleep better, while others find that rigorous activity makes it harder to fall asleep. Experiment with different types of exercise to see what works best for you.

Is it OK to exercise when sleep-deprived?

Yes, it is OK to exercise when sleep-deprived. In fact, research has shown that exercising when you’re tired may be more beneficial than not working out at all. Exercising will help you feel more alert and may make it easier to fall asleep later on. Just be sure to avoid strenuous activity close to bedtime if you’re having trouble sleeping.

How does exercise help insomnia?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the effects of exercise on sleep vary depending on the person. However, research has shown that regular exercise may improve sleep quality for some people. Exercise can help you feel more alert and energized during the day, which may make it easier to fall asleep at night.

Why do I sleep less when I exercise?

When you exercise, your body temperature rises. This does not directly affect the amount of time you spend sleeping, but it does make it harder for some people to fall asleep and stay asleep. Scientists have found that vigorous activity right before bedtime tends to disrupt sleep more than milder workouts performed earlier in the day.

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