Sleep Better with an Upbeat Exercise Plan

Medically reviewed in January 2022

Ready to be a super-steadfast sleeper? Looking for natural insomnia treatment? It's time to get physical.

In a study of people with insomnia, those who broke a sweat by adopting an upbeat exercise plan saw a greater improvement in their sleep than the folks with less-active hobbies.

Something About Sweat
The key to insomnia treatment and better sleep results? Perspiration. The exercisers in the study didn't just take a couple of strolls in the park. They trained for several weeks until they were able to do four 30-minute workouts a week at about 75% of their max heart rate. That means an exercise plan that includes jogging, brisk walking, or riding a stationary bike at a good clip -- anything that gets the heart rate up and makes talking tough. The vigorous exercisers also reported less daytime sleepiness and fewer symptoms of depression as a result of their efforts. (Try doing this before bed to fall asleep faster.)

Feeling Good, Feeling Sleepy
The other group in the study spent comparable amounts of time on nonathletic activities, like going to museums or attending classes. Enlightening, maybe . . . but not a boon to sleep, it turns out. Seems exercise may be particularly useful for improving sleep because it elevates mood. And that's a good thing, because depression and blue moods are little-known sleep stealers.

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