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Insomnia and Exercise

Regular exercise may also increase total sleep time and decrease the latency of sleep onset. One study assessed the effects of exercise on sleep symptoms in postmenopausal women. Tworoger et al. [Tworoger SS, Yasui Y, Vitiello MV, et al. Effects of a Yarlong moderate-intensity exercise and stretching intervention on sleep quality in postmenopausal women. Sleep 2003;26(7):830-6] observed that increased fitness was associated with an improvement in sleep. This study examines two cases of symptomatic postmenopausal patients with insomnia. The two patients took part in an individual physiotherapeutic treatment program that involved one and a half hour sessions twice a week for 6 consecutive months. The treatment consisted of segmental and global stretching exercises, strengthening exercises and relaxation techniques. Patient 1 experienced a significant increase in REM sleep and in total sleep efficiency. Patient 2 experienced a reduction in sleep latency and an increase in slow wave sleep. Both patients reported an overall improvement in their condition.
- Maturitas. 2008 Nov 20;61(3):281-4. Epub 2008 Sep 25. Physical therapy reduces insomnia symptoms in postmenopausal women. Llanas AC, Hachul H, Bittencourt LR, Tufik S.

Subjects having moderate or vigorous physical activity were 56% less likely to have insomnia. Multiple analysis revealed a significant interaction of physical activity with heart failure or myocardial ischemia (OR=0.054, 95% CI: 0.003-0.95), indicating that subjects having moderate or vigorous physical activity and heart failure or myocardial ischemia had lower odds for having insomnia compared to individuals with heart problems and low physical activity levels. Consequently, cardiac patients suffering from insomnia seem to benefit from physical exercise. Since sleep disorders are quite frequent in cardiac patients and may result in both physical and psychological complications which deteriorate even further their quality of life and health, our results need replication in this particularly vulnerable population.
- Int J Cardiol. 2008 Dec 22. Physical activity may promote sleep in cardiac patients suffering from insomnia. Paparrigopoulos T, Tzavara C, Theleritis C, Soldatos C, Tountas Y.

The frequency of sleep disruption and the degree to which insomnia significantly affects daytime function determine the need for evaluation and treatment. Physicians may initiate treatment of insomnia at an initial visit; for patients with a clear acute stressor such as grief, no further evaluation may be indicated. However, if insomnia is severe or long-lasting, a thorough evaluation to uncover coexisting medical, neurologic, or psychiatric illness is warranted. Treatment should begin with nonpharmacologic therapy, addressing sleep hygiene issues and exercise. There is good evidence supporting the effectiveness of cognitive behavior therapy. Exercise improves sleep as effectively as benzodiazepines in some studies and, given its other health benefits, is recommended for patients with insomnia.
- Am Fam Physician. 2007 Aug 15;76(4):517-26. Treatment options for insomnia.Ramakrishnan K, Scheid DC.

Sleep is an important marker of quality of life and the relationship between physical exercise and sleep conditions has been the subject of various scientific studies, suggesting that the elderly who practice physical exercise present fewer sleeping problems. The results of this study indicate that physically active women sleep more and better than sedentary women.
- Sleep Med. 2008 Jul;9(5):488-93. Epub 2007 Aug 30. Physically active elderly women sleep more and better than sedentary women.

Brain and Mental Health

References and Sources: Medline, Pubmed, National Institutes of Health

last update: May 2009

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