We already know that an adequate amount of good quality sleep is essential for people’s physical and emotional well-being. Also that good sleep helps to improve the symptoms of certain diseases such as cardiovascular and metabolic disorders, mental illnesses and dementia. On the other hand, sleep disorders such as insomnia, narcolepsy and excessive sleepiness can lead to serious health problems, which are quite common around the world. In the United States, for example, about 70 million adults suffer from sleep disorders. A recently published meta-analysis of 17 studies shows that, in China, insomnia affects 15% of the population.
To better understand the factors that promote good sleep quality, a team of researchers from Japan, Canada and Thailand, led by Professor Javad Koohsari, from the School of Cognitive Science at the Japan Institute of Science and Technology (JAIST), investigated the relationship between sedentary behavior, physical activity, and sleep quality in Japanese adults between the ages of 40 and 64, in a study recently published in Scientific Reports.
“We replaced 60 minutes of sedentary or light-intensity physical activity with moderate-to-vigorous physical activity in participants’ schedules,” says Koohsari. For seven consecutive days, the participants were monitored in their physical exercises and answered a questionnaire to assess the quality of their sleep and rest.
Replacing sedentary behavior with moderate to vigorous exercise actually improved sleep quality. Interestingly, this association was only found in women, which is consistent with reports that have shed light on gender differences in sleep disorders. However, more studies are needed to understand why these differences occur.
This study, however, adds to the body of existing research that provides empirical evidence for the importance of physical activity in promoting good sleep quality. And therefore, it will serve as a useful platform for future research on the prevention of sleep-related disorders.
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