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Morning Exercise Improves Sleep

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Updated August 16, 2007

Exercise can improve the quality of your sleep. More specifically, exercise can make your sleep deeper –- meaning that your sleep will be more refreshing and you will be less likely to wake up during the night.

When Should I Exercise for Better Sleep?

Don’t exercise right before bed. According to the National Sleep Foundation, exercising 2 to 3 hours before bed could interfere with your sleep. Instead, exercise in the morning or afternoon.

Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center showed that morning exercise increased the sleep quality of cancer-free post-menopausal women, but when the women exercised closer to bedtime, there was no improvement in sleep quality.

In the study, over 170 women (aged 50 to 75) participated in either a moderately intense exercise program for a year or a low-intensity stretching program. Women who exercised at least 225 minutes a week in the morning reported better sleep than women who exercise 180 minutes or less in the morning. The opposite effect was noted among evening exercisers: Women who exercised only 180 minutes or less in the evening reported better sleep than those who exercised more in the evening.

Why is Morning Exercise Better?

Researchers believe that morning exercise may help to set a person’s circadian rhythms (body clock) to be awake during the day and asleep at night. Exercising at night may create the pattern that the body is too awake in the evening.

Sources:

Tworoger SS, Yasui Y, Vitiello MV, Schwartz RS, Ulrich CM, Aiello EJ, Irwin ML, Bowen D, Potter JD, McTiernan A. Effects of a yearlong moderate-intensity exercise and a stretching intervention on sleep quality in postmenopausal women. Sleep. 2003 Nov 1;26(7):830-6.

National Sleep Foundation. Helping Yourself to a Good Night’s Sleep.

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