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Having trouble sleeping? Intense exercise can help you sleep better

Having trouble sleeping? Intense exercise can help you sleep better


Like most people, you probably know how important sleep is for our physical and mental well-being. After all, getting a good night's sleep can help improve the outcomes of various health issues, from heart disease and dementia to stress and PTSD.

But did you know that sleep disorders like insomnia and excessive sleepiness affect millions worldwide? In the US, up to 70 million adults suffer from sleep disorders, mostly insomnia. With lack of sleep come several mental health issues. Sleep deprivation can worsen symptoms of mental health disorders like anxiety, PTSD, and ADHD.

So, what if you’re already coping with some mental health issue and you’re finding it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep? Get a good dose of moderate to intense physical exercise. Exercise benefits sleep more than you can imagine. Exercise improves sleep and can make you sleep fast.

Relationship between exercise and sleep

To better understand the relationship between sleep and exercise, a team of international researchers studied the link between sedentary behavior, physical activity, and sleep quality in a sample of middle-aged Japanese adults. They published their findings in Scientific Reports, and the results are quite fascinating!

The researchers replaced 60 minutes of sedentary behavior or light-intensity physical activity with moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. They monitored the participants' physical activity levels for a week using an accelerometer and assessed their sleep quality through a questionnaire. And guess what they found? The replacement of sedentary behavior with moderate-to-intense exercise actually improved sleep quality, but only in women.

How does exercise improve sleep?

Moderate to high-intensity exercise increases your core body temperature, making your body fully awake. But the temperature quickly falls over the next 30-90 minutes, inducing sleepiness. This makes evenings the best time to exercise for better quality sleep.

Moderate to high-intensity exercise improves sleep quality

So, what does this mean for us? Well, it goes to show how important physical activity is for promoting good-quality sleep. This study adds to the existing body of evidence that supports the benefits of regular exercise for better sleep. And, with these findings, we have even more motivation to make exercise a regular part of our daily routine!

But even more importantly, if you want to get the most benefits of exercise for sleep, engage in moderate or vigorous exercise rather than light intensity ones. So instead of slow-walking or doing house chores, go brisk-walking, swimming, or lifting weights. Also, it seems women stand more to benefit from exercise when it comes to sleeping better.


In conclusion, if you're struggling with sleep-related issues, it might be worth giving physical activity a try. Who knows, it could be just what you need to get a good night's sleep!


Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Hope Mental Health, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults.  Ms. Woodland with her background in nursing, prefers a holistic and integrative approach to mental health care that addresses the mind and body together. While Ms. Woodland provides medication management services in all her patients, she believes in long-lasting solutions that include a number of psychotherapies, namely cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure and response prevention therapy, attention to lifestyle, evidenced based alternative psychiatric care and spirituality. If you’d like to gain control over your mental health issues, call Hope Mental Health at 208-918-0958, or use the online scheduling tool to set up an initial consultation.

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