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Tired of a sleepless night? One of the most important things may be exercise, according to a new study.

“Physically active people are less likely to have symptoms of insomnia and to have long and short sleep periods,” says sleep expert Dr. Erla Björnsdottir, who led the study. and a part-time lecturer and researcher at Reykjavík University.

The study Published Tuesday in the journal BMJ Open, it looked at data on more than 4,300 people aged 39 to 67 over a 10-year period.

Björnsdóttir is associated with a sleep app that tracks sleep and provides tips for better sleep. The company did not provide financial support for this study, and the authors report no competing interests.

Participants in nine European countries were surveyed about the frequency, intensity, and duration of exercise, as well as their insomnia symptoms, amount of sleep each night, and feelings of sleepiness during the day.

People who are consistently active are 55% more likely to get regular sleep — those who sleep 6 to 9 hours a day — and people who are chronically active are 21% more likely to get regular sleep — adjusting for age, sex, body mass index (BMI) and smoking history, the study found. He explained.

Dr. David Neubauer, an associate professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said the results are strong on their own, but are supported by an existing body of literature. He did not participate in the study.

“Our results are similar to previous studies that showed a beneficial effect of physical activity on insomnia symptoms, but the current study also shows the importance of physical activity over time,” Björnsdóttir said in an email. “Therefore, it is important to exercise throughout your life to reduce insomnia and short-term sleep.”

The research could give health care professionals another tool besides medication and treatment, said Dr. Shalini Parutty, director of the Sleep Medicine and Research Center at St. Luke’s Hospital in Chesterfield, Missouri, and a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. She did not participate in the study.

“It gives us an idea of ​​something we don’t always think about when it comes to treating insomnia,” says Paruthi.

Research Shows That Regular Exercise Is Associated With Better Sleep.

There are many reasons why exercise can help you get a good night’s rest.

“Exercise has been shown to improve sleep quality and duration by increasing relaxation, reducing stress, and improving mood. Exercise helps regulate the body’s internal clock and promotes deeper, more restorative sleep,” says Björnsdottir.

This study doesn’t automatically show that increasing physical activity reduces insomnia symptoms because it didn’t measure sleep quality before increasing activity, Neubauer said.

However, there is still good evidence.

“There’s some literature that suggests … people who start to exercise more and do more physical activity tend to get better nighttime sleep relative to their total sleep time and have a better ability to fall asleep,” he said.

But it’s important to note that people with long-term insomnia may not find exercise to be a complete cure on its own, Parruthy adds.

And it varies by individual — some people see dramatic results, others moderate and groups of people may see no improvement at all, she said.

Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia is the most effective tool for treating insomnia, so people with more severe sleep problems may want to look into that, Paruthi added.

You don’t need to start running a marathon to reap the benefits. You just have to start, say the experts.

“Even moderate physical activity, such as walking or yoga, can have a positive effect on sleep,” says Björnsdottir.

Parutthi has seen from her patients that there are always ways to be more active, but that any amount helps.

“Even if you can only go two houses to the left, turn around and go two houses to the right — that’s a great start,” she said. “Even if you’re working out five minutes a day, you have to start somewhere.”

If you want to make your activity more supportive of your circadian rhythm, you can go outside in the sunlight, Neubauer says.

“Being outdoors and being physically active has a positive effect on our circadian rhythm. And it’s our circadian rhythm that promotes sleep at night and alertness during the day,” he said.

“The degree to which people can improve their lifestyle by improving activity and getting outside and getting more light will definitely have a positive effect on nighttime sleep.”