The Exercise and Sleep Connection

By Betty Murray

Trouble sleeping at night? Surprisingly, all your tossing and turning may be because you aren’t getting enough exercise. There’s still plenty of research to be done on the exact relationship between sleep and exercise, but several studies suggest exercise is just what is needed to cure insomnia (or improve sleep at least).

One study looked at how exercise effects sedentary women and men in their 60’s who suffer from insomnia. After a 16-week exercise program, participants study participants slept longer and woke up fewer time during the night than those who did not participate in the exercise program.

Unfortunately, this study (and others) suggests it takes time for exercise to begin improving sleep. For example, in the study mentioned above, participants’ sleep habits didn’t improve until the end of the exercise program. So if you’re relying solely on exercise to help you get enough sleep at night, you’ll need a good dose of patience.

Exercise isn’t only beneficial for the sleep of senior adults, another study found that teenage athletes had better sleep patterns and were also more awake and alert during the day than teens who get less regular exercise.

Why sleep matters

Getting enough sleep is important not only for your mental health and awareness during the day, but it is also important for your physical health. According to this infographic from, lack of sleep…

• Leads to depression by causing a decrease in neurotransmitters, which are responsible for regulating mood.

• Impairs memory and cognitive function.

• Increases anxiety levels by amplifying anticipatory reactions in the brain.

• Disrupts the body’s circadian rhythm, leading to poor white blood cell health, weakening immunity.

• Increases risk of stroke by affecting cardiovascular health, restricting blood flow to the brain.

• Increases production of the hunger hormone ghrelin (which makes you feel hungry) and decreases production of leptin (which makes you feel full).

For maximum energy during the day, a healthy body and to keep from gaining weight or storing fat, the average adult should get 6 to 8 hours of sleep each night. As a busy adult, good sleep can be hard to come by.

Betty Murray, CN, HHC, RYT is a Certified Nutritionist & Holistic Health Counselor, founder of the Dallas-based integrative medical center, Wellness and founder of the Metabolic Blueprint wellness program. Betty’s nutrition counseling practice specializes in metabolic and digestive disorders and weight loss resistance. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutritional interventions to improve their health. Betty is a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.


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