Richie Mishal graduated with a double major in nutritional science and anthropology. During his studies in college, he learned a lot about biology, chemistry and proper research methods. Since then he has used that knowledge and spent years training with professional bodybuilders, world champion boxers and sports celebrities to create simple and effective solutions for their fitness goals. Mishal’s research of bodybuilding, fitness, and health started at the ripe age of 13.
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“And from that point on I’ve spent my entire adult life working out with the best bodybuilders in the world. My education, experience and knowledge give me a unique perspective on bodybuilding, health and fitness; a perspective which will help you in your fitness endeavors,” Mishal said.
We all know exercise is good for us. You lose weight; it’s good for your health, good for your waistlines, good for stress and for clarity of mind. And yes, exercise is also very — very — good for sleep. Exercise can improve sleep, especially for people with sleep disorders. And now there’s even more information about how regular physical activity can help with your sleep.
There have been copious amounts of research conducted on the relationship between exercise and sleep. The results found that people who exercise regularly experience better quality and more consistent sleep than those who do not. People who exercise are also significantly less likely to feel sleepy during the day, and to experience symptoms of sleep disorders such as insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea. And the news gets better: While more vigorous exercise is best, people participating in light exercise — as little as 10 minutes of walking a day — reported substantially better sleep than non-exercisers.
The National Science Foundation interviewed a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults between the ages of 23 and 60. Participants were asked to report on their physical activity in the past week, providing details on the frequency, duration and intensity of their exercise. They also were asked to report on the quantity and quality of their sleep, as well as sleep problems including symptoms of disordered sleep and daytime drowsiness. Participants provided information about their overall health and personal habits, including alcohol and smoking. Based on the reports of physical activity, respondents were divided into four categories, according to their exercise habits:
• Vigorous: These people participated in activities like running, biking, swimming, and other pursuits that require significant physical exertion.
• Moderate: Respondents in this category spent time doing activities that included higher-than-normal levels of physical exertion, including yoga and weight training.
• Light: People in this category were physically active at normal levels of exertion, getting their exercise primarily by walking.
• No activity: The respondents in this category did not engage in exercise.
The results were striking. All respondents — from vigorous exercisers to non-exercisers — reported getting roughly the same amount of sleep on a nightly basis, an average of six hours and 51 minutes on workdays, and seven hours and 37 minutes on non-workdays. More than half of exercisers (56-67 percent) reported getting a good night’s sleep every night or almost every night, compared to 39 percent of non-exercisers.
All exercisers reported an improvement in their quality of sleep. Vigorous exercisers had fewer sleep problems than moderate and light exercisers, including less difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, waking too early and not being able to fall back asleep. All exercisers reported fewer of these problems than people who did not exercise at all.
People who engaged in no exercise didn’t just report lower quality sleep, they also reported in greater numbers a range of difficulties with their health and their daily lives. Non-exercisers were significantly more likely to say they experienced “very bad” sleep than exercisers. Non-exercisers were more likely to feel sleepy during the day. Nearly twice as many non-exercisers reported daytime sleepiness as exercisers.
Daytime sleepiness interfered with non-exercisers daily activities and their safety more often than for those who exercised. Fourteen percent of non-exercisers reported having trouble staying awake while driving, eating, or engaging in social activity one or more times in the previous two weeks, compared to 4-6 percent of exercisers.
Non-exercisers were significantly more likely to have symptoms of sleep disorders, including obstructive sleep apnea. Forty-four percent of non-exercisers demonstrated a moderate risk for sleep apnea, based on standard clinical indications for the sleep disorder. This number was more than twice as high as for vigorous exercisers, only 19 percent of whom indicated a moderate risk of sleep apnea.
The message here is clear: Put some time every day toward exercise, and when bedtime comes around, you’ll sleep better. For those trying to juggle a regular exercise routine amid busy schedules, there’s some more good news in this research. The results found that exercise at any time of day was good for sleep, including within four hours of bedtime. Based on these results, Richie is revising his recommendation, and encourages normal sleepers to exercise at any time of day, provided that their exercise does not interfere with their sleep. People with insomnia and other sleep disorders should continue to schedule their exercise earlier in the day. And anyone who finds their sleep diminished by late-day exercise should do the same.
So, start exercising! If you’re looking for ways to improve your sleep, your daily exercise routine is a great place to start.
Richie Mishal’s blog covers a wide variety of issues you won’t find anywhere else about nutrition, bodybuilding and fitness. Bodybuilding is a dynamic and complicated sport with consistently new research that continually changes our viewpoints and sends us on a path of progression towards a more in-depth understanding of the human body. Visit Mishal’s blog at richiemishal.wordpress.com.
Contact him directly at Diamond Nutrition International, Inc., in Diamond Springs at 530-344-9011 or via e-mail at [email protected]