sleep and exercise

Does exercise help improve your sleep?

Written by: WellCome Care Editorial Team

In a Nutshell:

  • Sleep disturbances can have an adverse effect on daily lives, and can cause serious disruptions in an individual’s health, productivity and mood
  • Exercising has been found to improve sleep quality and increase daily sleep duration
  • Daily physical activity and aerobic exercise training are excellent "natural" options for combating insomnia and other common sleep disorders

Adults require at least 6-8 hours of sleep per night to function optimally in terms of health and productivity.

A decrease in the duration or quality of daily sleep can have numerous harmful effects of an individual’s daily life, the most prominent of which include:

  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Inability to concentrate or focus on work
  • Decreased productivity
  • Drowsiness and lethargy during waking hours
  • Negative impact of personal, professional and social interactions
  • Feeling exhausted throughout the day and experiencing low energy levels

Disturbed sleeping patterns over a prolonged duration of time can also cause effect an individual’s memory and the way they perceive things.

Exercise and physical activity offer countless health benefits – one of which is improved sleep quality.

A study was recently conducted on a group of 40 adults who were experiencing various kinds of sleep disturbances. These participants were assigned different aerobic activities daily.

The results showed that 6 months of physical activities had produced the following effects:

  • Increase in total sleep duration
  • Better sleep efficiency and onset of REM (Rapid Eye Movement) phase
  • Modification of sleep quality

Contrary to the misconceptions, it does not matter whether you exercise right before bedtime or early in the day – it will still help you sleep better, stay asleep for longer at night.

Exercise Regimen for Better Sleep

According to experts, aerobic exercises are ideal for improving sleep quality. Aerobic exercises get the heart pumping faster, forcing you to breathe faster. This fast breathing takes more oxygen to the brain and all vital organs, improving their health and productivity. Here’s a routine you can follow to get better sleep at night:

  • Dedicate at least 30 minutes a day to a physical activity that forces you to breathe faster and harder than normally
  • Some great examples of aerobic exercises include running, brisk walking, swimming, dancing, hiking and biking.
  • Always remember to change the course you normally talk after a 3-4 days before your body gets used to it. Challenge your body with inclines, obstacles and increased durations that change every week.
  • For best results, combine exercising with other habits such as setting a daily routine for sleeping and waking up, investing in good quality pillows and mattresses, and giving yourself a comfortable environment to rest in after a long day.

Strength of Evidence: A

Dedicating 30 minutes to an hour to exercising and physical activity daily can dramatically improve quality of sleep. Studies have shown that it does not necessarily matter what time you indulge in your physical activity – if you are regular and consistent, you will notice a positive change in your sleeping pattern and quality within a week.

Exercises as simple as a combination of brisk walking and running for 30 minutes a day can change the way you sleep.

Our Ruling

Daily aerobic exercises can help you sleep better, longer and have a positive impact on all aspects of life.


  1. Exercise & sleep in aging: serotonin
  2. Aerobic exercise and sleep quality
  3. NHS - Insomnia
  4. Sleep and exercise for teens
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