1 Exercise Session Won't Bring Good Night's Sleep

Study found there is no quick fix for insomnia when it comes to working out

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Not only that, a reverse relationship was noted, in which sleeping poorly one night led to a decrease in the amount of time a person spent exercising the next day. This meant that the insomniacs were at risk of falling into a vicious cycle, in which they ended up being too tired to exercise regularly to get better sleep in the long term.

"So, what this means is that patients need to plan ahead," Baron advised. "They need to schedule exercise. Make it premeditated and part of one's routine, especially on those days when they feel tired or fatigued or didn't sleep well, because even if the sleep benefit doesn't come quickly, with time and commitment it may eventually come."

However, Dr. James Pagel, director of the Sleep Disorders Center of Southern Colorado in Pueblo, sounded a cautious note on the findings, because "insomnia is not the same for everyone."

"Here they were looking at how exercise could specifically benefit primarily elderly women with insomnia who didn't exercise beforehand," he noted. "But there are at least 60 different diagnoses associated with insomnia. And 14 percent of the American population has chronic insomnia. So, it's a big group of people, and it's very diverse," Pagel said.

"So, yes, there was a long-term, if not short-term, benefit for this group, which I would expect we would see for many similarly aged-men as well," he noted.

"But I have a large group of patients who run marathons. I have people who are insomniac and run many miles a week. And they still can't sleep, because insomnia is an abnormality of arousal, and for some people you're not just unable to sleep, but you're also hyper-aroused during the day and often committed to a very intense exercise pattern. And for these individuals, and those with a genetic form of insomnia, for example, exhausting themselves with exercise will not induce sleep," Pagel explained.

"So, this is great news for this population that they looked at," he added. "But it won't apply to everyone."

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SOURCES: Kelly Baron, Ph.D., M.P.H., assistant professor, neurology, and director, Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program, department of neurology, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago; James Pagel, M.D., associate clinical professor, University of Colorado Medical School System, and director, Sleep Disorders Center of Southern Colorado, Pueblo; Aug. 15, 2013, Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, online

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