According to a study, taking part in a regular exercise might help people sleep sounder and better. Based on the research conducted, those individuals who met the national exercise guidelines were able to have better sleep and less daytime fatigue compared to those who did not.

The study doesn’t prove that physical activity has a direct link in improving sleep and it is possible that there may be another explanation for the apparent connection between physical exercise and sleep. Yet, “the findings are mostly consistent with previous research”, said an assistant professor of exercise and wellness at Arizona State University, Matthew P. Buman, as he is familiar with the research.

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However, if you believe that committing to an hour of jogging or walking every day could solve all of your sleep problems, then that might be too overboard.

“In general, the relationship between physical activity and sleep is moderate,” Buman stated.

According to the background information in the said research, more than a third of the adult population in the U.S. experiences sleep disturbances during the night and have a hard time staying focused and active during the day. Lack of sleep has a direct relationship with serious health problems such as depression, cardiovascular disease etc.

The new research, which was conducted by the Oregon State University researchers, observed the statistics from a U.S. health survey conducted from 2005 to 2006.  The research observed more than 2,600 male and female subjects – ranging between 18 to 85 years old – and measured their physical activity levels and answered questions regarding sleep.

For a whole week, the subjects were required to wear accelerometers, a device that can gauge their physical activity levels.

The researchers then verified how many of the subjects were able to meet or exceed the national exercise guidelines by acquiring a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity a week, or a combination of both.

Those who are able to fulfill the guidelines were 65 percent less likely to report feeling tired and heavy-eyed during the morning in comparison to those who performed less physical activity. They were also 68% less likely to complain from having leg cramps and 45 percent less likely to report having problems staying in focused when tired.

Despite the inability of the study to confirm that exercise has a direct relation to sleep, Buman still finds the research findings interesting.

If the findings were true, however, the causes were not clear. Some researchers believe that regular exercise improves sleep by helping in regulating the levels of stress, anxiety and depression. “Others have suggested an energy conservation hypothesis, essentially saying that when you burn more calories through exercise, your body more efficiently uses the sleep period to recover. Others have suggested that exercise can modestly reduce body weight, which in turn helps people to sleep better.” Buman said.

He also noted about another theory that indicates that physical activity may help the body deal better with the lowering down its temperature during sleep.

The said research can be seen in the December issue of the journal Mental Health and Physical Activity.

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