Activities like aerobics, biking, gardening, golfing, running, weight-lifting, and yoga or Pilates are associated with better sleep habits, research finds.
Even people who just walked had healthier sleep habits had healthier sleep habits than those that did not.
It was better for sleep habits, though, to add a slightly more vigorous activity than just walking.
Household activities and childcare, though, are linked to worse sleep habits.
The conclusions come from surveys of 429,110 adults.
They were asked about 10 types of activities and how much sleep they typically got each night.
Dr Michael Grandner, who led the study, said:
“Although previous research has shown that lack of exercise is associated with poor sleep, the results of this study were surprising.
Not only does this study show that those who get exercise simply by walking are more likely to have better sleep habits, but these effects are even stronger for more purposeful activities, such as running and yoga, and even gardening and golf.
It was also interesting that people who receive most of their activity from housework and childcare were more likely to experience insufficient sleep — we know that home and work demands are some of the main reasons people lose sleep.”
Dr Grandner continued:
“These results are consistent with the growing scientific literature on the role of sleep in human performance.
Lab studies show that lack of sleep is associated with poor physical and mental performance, and this study shows us that this is consistent with real-world data as well.
Since these results are correlational, more studies are needed to help us understand whether certain kinds of physical activity can actually improve or worsen sleep, and how sleep habits help or hurt a person’s ability to engage in specific types of activity.”
The study was presented at SLEEP 2015, the 29th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
Image credit: Alex