Secret of Sound Sleep
Regular exercise is good for your heart, your waistline and your sleep. A new poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation revealed that people who reported exercising vigorously were almost twice as likely to say they slept well nightly, or almost every night. They were also the least likely to complain of problems falling asleep or waking too early and not being able to nod off again. In comparison, half of poll participants who said they don’t exercise reported waking during the night, and nearly one quarter had trouble falling asleep again. Worse, poll participants who didn’t exercise experienced more symptoms of sleep apnea, a condition that causes you to stop breathing periodically during sleep and is associated with an increased the risk of heart disease and stroke. The poll found a 44 percent risk of sleep apnea in non-exercisers, compared to a 26 percent risk among participants who said they exercised lightly, a 22 percent risk among those who described their exercise as moderate and only a 19 percent risk in those who exercise vigorously. Another interesting finding: contrary to conventional wisdom, poll participants who exercised close to bedtime reported sleeping as well as those who exercised earlier in the day, a finding that prompted the NSF to change its recommendation about the timing of exercise from “not in the hours prior to bedtime” to “any time you want.”

My take? This is good news.Inadequate sleep can endanger your health in many ways: it increases the risk of accidents caused by fatigue and promotes weight gain, perhaps by disrupting production of the appetite regulating hormones ghrelin and leptin. Sleep deprivation can also disrupt the body’s regulation of blood sugar, which can increase risk of type 2 diabetes.  And laboratory studies suggest that not getting adequate rest may also elevate levels of stress hormones, boost blood pressure, and increase inflammation – all changes that may lead to disease later in life. Performing regular physical activity can allow you to get the rest you need and help prevent the health problems caused by poor sleep.