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December 5, 2011

Practical Science: Exercising to Sleep

 NASA astronaut Steve Lindsey, commander of STS-133
exercising on the International Space Station
Photo credit NASA via Wikimedia Commons
I write a lot about science that overturns everyday notions. More often, though, I find science confirms what most anyone on the street could tell you. Even if those stories don't make as catchy headlines, they can still be really important. Case and point, a new study to be published in the December issue of the journal Mental Health and Physical Activity has found that people who do moderate to vigorous exercise for at least 150 minutes a week sleep better and feel less drowsy during the day. Not just a little more sleep either: a full 65% increase in reported sleep quality.

I have found this to be true in my own life as well. The nights I don't sleep well are when I am trapped inside all day writing a paper or watching videos on the Internet. My uncle is a rancher in Wyoming and says he has never has trouble sleeping. It is really nice to see a study like this to confirm my own anecdotal experience.

So, if you do have trouble getting through the night, try to find a half hour each day to ride a bike, run, swim, hike, lift, climb, whatever works for you.