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Future Health

The Effects of Exercise on Sleep

August 23, 2013 

Sleep problems often accompany those recovering from addiction. The tried and true recipe for better sleep has always included lots of regular exercise. Study after study has shown that regular exercise provides longer and deeper sleep. But a new study shows that formula works well for those without sleep disturbances. For those with insomnia, on the other hand, it's not such an easy fit.
According to this study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine (Aug., 2013), exercise at first might actually exacerbate sleep problems because of the physical stress it causes. That has the potential to discourage those with sleep problems from continuing an exercise program. But regular exercise over a long period of time can be beneficial.
People with insomnia, in other words, are different neurologically because their stress system already is aroused. Exercise can intensify that in the short term, according to the study. But if an exercise routine is continued over a long period of time, four months in one study, the individual should see positive results.
One caveat is that the two studies discussed in this article involved small groups of women, most middle-aged or older. Also, the studies did not account for what types of exercise might be most helpful to sleep or what time of day exercise had the most beneficial impact. 
But the researchers who conducted the study still find a clear message, that for those who experience insomnia who are not in a routine of regular exercise, you are likely to experience a benefit in improved sleep if you begin such a regimen. The results might take some time to produce, but they should come -- along with an increase your sleeping time, without the most common help product: drugs.