For many exercisers, one of the biggest payoffs of increasing their physical activity is better sleep at night.
Research supports this connection, with some studies indicating that something as simple as taking more steps per day can help promote better sleep.
What is better sleep?
Better sleep refers to sleep quality. In other words, how well you sleep, as opposed to how long you sleep. Measuring sleep quality is not an exact science. However, some of the characteristics of sleep quality include your ability to:
- Fall asleep quickly (within 30 minutes).
- Sleep through the night.
- Fall back asleep quickly (within 20 minutes) if awakened.
- Get the recommended amount of sleep for your age group.
Why is sleep quality important?
Quality sleep supports your physical and mental health and contributes to your overall quality of life. It allows you to wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the new day. And, it gives you the needed energy to be physically active throughout the day.
Poor sleep quality, on the other hand, can have negative impact on your physiological and psychological health. It can also affect your safety and that of others. For example, driving or operating machinery when sleep deprived can lead to accidents.
Finally, poor sleep can contribute to a decrease in physical activity throughout the day. That decrease in physical activity then affects your quality of sleep, which, in turn, affects your physical activity the next day, and so on.
How Much Exercise Equals Better Sleep?
So, to experience the Holy Grail of better sleep, how much exercise do you need? Are we talking about high-intensity workouts? Heavy-duty resistance exercise? Not necessarily.
In 2019, an observational study found that moderate exercise like walking had a positive impact on the quality of sleep among the study participants. Researchers at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass. recruited 59 participants for a 4-week walking intervention. The aim of the study? Getting participants to increase their daily steps.
The participants—all middle-aged—used fitness trackers to track their daily steps for a month.
Throughout the month, participants also completed a variety of surveys, some with questions concerning their sleep. For example, how long it took them to fall asleep, how often they woke during the night, whether they woke up refreshed, etc.
As the researchers compiled the data, they found a link between walking and sleep. Specifically, participants who increased their daily steps over the course of the month also reported better quality sleep. How many steps a day? These participants averaged 7000 steps a day, just over three miles.
take those steps with NuStep
Getting outside and walking in your neighborhood is great, but not everyone can. NuStep cross trainers are a great alternative and can make daily “walks” possible. They deliver a low-impact workout with a smooth-stepping motion that is like walking. Designed for ease of use and accessibility, NuStep cross trainers can accommodate users of virtually all fitness levels—including those with limited mobility. And, the NuStep tracks your total steps and displays them on an easy-to-read console.
Taking extra steps each day to improve your sleep at night? It’s the stuff dreams are made of.