By Sarah Regan
March 10, 2022 — 23:05 PM
One of the best ways to ensure you can fall asleep at night—and get quality rest—is to get enough exercise so your body and mind are tired when your head hits the pillow. But is one particular type of exercise better than others when it comes to sleep?
That’s what new research, presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention, Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health conference, sought to discover. Read on to find their answer.
Studying how different exercises affect sleep.
For this study, researchers wanted to know how different types of exercise affect sleep, so they designed one of the largest and longest-running sleep-exercise trials to date.
Just under 400 adults participated, and agreed to follow different types of training plans: Some did resistance exercises (weightlifting machines), some did aerobic exercises (treadmills, bikes, or ellipticals), and some did a combination of both. The groups were supervised for 60 minutes, three times a week, doing the workouts. There was also a control group with no supervised exercise plan.
During the yearlong study, participants’ sleep metrics were also tracked. They self-reported on factors like sleep quality, sleep duration, how long it took them to fall asleep, and how much they were disturbed throughout the night.
What they found.
At the beginning of the study, 42% of participants reported getting less than seven hours of sleep per night. Of these folks, resistance training has a leg up on aerobic exercise for sleep improvement.
By the end of the research, those who did resistance exercise clocked 17 more minutes of sleep per night on average, while the aerobic exercise group and combined exercise group experienced no significant change in sleep duration. The people doing resistance training also took slightly less time to fall asleep at night by the end of the study.
As study author Angelique Brellenthin, Ph.D., notes in a news release, “While both aerobic and resistance exercise are important for overall health, our results suggest that resistance exercises may be superior when it comes to getting better ZZZ’s at night,” adding that this can also have beneficial effects on the heart—which needs adequate rest to stay healthy.
She adds that if your sleep could be better, “consider incorporating two or more resistance exercise training sessions into your regular exercise routine to improve your general muscle and bone health, as well as your sleep.”
Any form of movement is good movement. But if you could use a bit more sleep (or want to be able to doze off a bit faster), this research suggests doing more resistance training may be just the thing your sleep hygiene is missing. And after your workout routine, you can slip right into your nighttime routine with a spa-like shower, a sleep supporting supplement, and some cozy PJs.*