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Building on well-established science linking physical activity with healthy sleep patterns, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine looked at lifestyle data from about 430,000 adults to see if certain forms of exercise were more likely to help people get enough sleep. (For this study, seven hours was considered a sufficient amount.)
The study subjects were asked what type of physical activity they had spent the most time doing in the last month and how much sleep they tend to get in a 24-hour period.
The findings: If you're hoping for sufficient sleep, walking is better than doing no physical activity at all. But you're likely to get more slumber time than someone who just walks if you do any of the following: aerobics/calisthenics, biking, gardening, golf, running, weight-lifting and yoga/Pilates.
The not-so-good news: If most of your daily physical activity revolves around cleaning the house or caring for children, those tasks won't help you get more shut-eye, no matter how strenuous they are. In fact, you're actually less likely to get a full night's rest.
When exercise shortens sleep
A report in Time magazine raises a related and intriguing conundrum that may be facing those who have a hard time fitting in exercise: In our busy lives, sometimes we consider getting up a little earlier (i.e., sacrifice sleep) in order to fit in a workout. If we do that, are we causing more problems than we're solving?
One sleep expert who spoke to Time says cutting into sleeping time is OK on occasion—as long as you're not throwing your circadian rhythms way out of whack.
Dr. Phyllis Zee, director of the Center for Circadian and Sleep Medicine at Northwestern University, told Time a key factor is when the midpoint of your sleep falls. "Say you typically go to bed around 11 p.m. and rise at seven," writes Time's Markham Heid. "Zee says the midpoint of your night would land near 3 a.m. As long as you're maintaining your seven- to eight-hour average and that midpoint lands between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m., Zee says you're fine skipping a half hour of sleep a few days a week in favour of a morning run or gym visit."
What's not fine, Heid continues, is getting up two hours earlier in order to fit in that exercise.
Experts point out that many of us have a half-hour each day of television or Internet time that we could easily cut out in order to make more time for both sleep and exercise. Hard to argue with that!
read on for more on benefits of a good sleep and six ways to maximize your exercise.