Regular Exercise of 2-3 times per week Helps to Lower Insomnia Risk: Study


A 10-year study published in the open access journal BMJ Open reveals that consistent exercise 2-3 times a week can reduce the incidence of insomnia and help individuals get the needed 6-9 hours of sleep each night.

Research indicates that regular exercise improves general health, improves sleep quality, and may alleviate symptoms of chronic insomnia. However, it remains unclear how much gender, age, weight (BMI), overall fitness, general health, and activity style influence this association, they say.

To investigate further, the researchers measured the frequency, length, and intensity of weekly physical activity as well as insomnia symptoms, nightly sleep patterns, and daily drowsiness in middle-aged adults from 21 sites across nine European nations. The study included 4,399 participants (2,085 males and 2,254 women) from the European Community Respiratory Health Survey.

They responded to questions about physical activity frequency and duration at baseline (ECRHS II; 1998-2002), as well as physical activity, insomnia symptoms (Basic Nordic Sleep Questionnaire; scale 1-5), sleep duration, and daytime sleepiness (Epworth Sleepiness Scale) ten years later (ECRHS III; 2011-14).

Participants who reported exercising at least twice a week for one hour or more were considered physically active. Over a ten-year period, 37% (1,601) of individuals were continuously sedentary; 18% (775) became physically active; 20% (881) became inactive; and 25% (1,082) remained active.

Norway had the highest rate of persistent activity, whereas Spain had the highest rate of persistent inactivity, followed by Estonia. Persistently active participants were more likely to be male, younger, and weigh slightly less. They were also less likely to smoke and more likely to be employed.

After adjusting for age, gender, BMI, smoking history, and study center, those who were persistently active were 42% less likely to have difficulty falling asleep, 22% less likely to have any symptoms of insomnia, and 40% less likely to report two or more (37% less likely) insomnia symptoms. Insomnia symptoms were also linked to age, female gender, and weight.

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