Exercise in the Morning for Better Sleep
Daily exercise is an important factor for good health, but when should you exercise if you want better sleep? According to a new study, you should exercise in the morning soon after you get up for quality sleep later that night.
Early to rise and then exercise
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called insufficient sleep a public health epidemic. Although the National Sleep Foundation suggests adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night, nearly 30 percent get 6 hours or less, according to the National Health Interview Survey. High school students should be clocking 8.5 to 9 hours, but less than one-third get at least 8 hours.
Insufficient sleep has a detrimental impact on everyday activities. An inability to concentrate, memory problems, higher incidence of accidents and injuries, and problems at work are joined by a greater risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, depression, diabetes, hypertension, and obesity.
At the 58th Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine and the 2nd World Congress on Exercise is Medicine, researchers with Appalachian State University presented their findings on the effect of exercise timing on sleep patterns in 9 adults. The investigators set out to determine if timing of exercise could improve sleep quality.
Each of the six men and three women visited the sleep lab on three separate occasions—one at 7 AM, one at 1 PM, and one at 7 PM—during which they performed 30 minutes of exercise on a treadmill. All the participants wore a sleep-monitoring headband at night that measured their sleep quality and sleep stage times.
Exercise at 7 AM led to significantly greater improvements in sleep quality compared with exercise at 1 PM or 7 PM. Early morning exercise was associated with 85 percent more time in light sleep and 75 percent more time in deep sleep, as well as a 20 percent increase in sleep cycle frequency.
According to lead author Scott Collier, PhD, FACSM, assistant professor at Appalachian State University, “exercise is proven to improve the quality of sleep, and our team wanted to see if the timing of exercise could maximize these benefits.”
Based on the findings of this study, exercise early in the morning leads to better sleep. Collier noted that “These findings--if the results of the sample hold true for the general population—can help exercisers gain even greater benefits from physical activity.”
American College of Sports Medicine
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
CDC. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States, 2009. MMWR 2010; 59:SS-5
Schoenborn CA, Adams PF. Vital Health Stat 10(245). 2010