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Facts on Sleep and Exercise

Jul 21, 2020

It’s a common fact that how well we sleep affects our overall health and wellbeing. But just how much can one area of our lives affect our sleep? The 2013 National Sleep Foundation Sleep In America Poll examined the relationship between sleep and exercise.

The poll provided interesting and, in some cases, surprising findings about the link between active lifestyles and sleep habits.

Here are the top five results from this year’s poll:

  1. Exercisers say they sleep better. People who say they exercise report better sleep than those who say they don’t exercise. More than three-fourths of exercisers said their sleep quality was very good or fairly good in the past two weeks, compared to just over one-half of non-exercisers.
  2. Vigorous exercisers report the best sleep. Vigorous exercisers are almost twice as likely as non-exercisers to say, “I had a good night’s sleep” every night or almost every night, and they are the least likely to report sleep problems.
  3. Non-exercisers are the sleepiest and have the highest risk for sleep apnea. Nearly one-fourth of non-exercisers qualify as “sleepy” using a standard screening measure. Only 12-12 % of exercisers qualify as sleepy. More than four in ten non-exercisers (44%) showed a moderate risk for sleep apnea, compared to between 26% of light exercisers and 19% of vigorous exercisers.
  4. Less time sitting is associated with better sleep and health. Those who sit for fewer than 8 hours a day were significantly more likely to report “very good” sleep quality.
  5. Exercising at any time of the day appears to be good for sleep. Contrary to long-standing “sleep hygiene” advice, exercising close to bedtime was not associated with poorer sleep quality. In fact, exercise was linked to better sleep no matter what time of day.


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