People need enough quality sleep to maintain their physical and mental health. For example, getting enough quality sleep can help treat a number of conditions, such as dementia, mental illness, and metabolic, cardiovascular, and metabolic disorders. On the other hand, sleep disorders such as insomnia, narcolepsy and excessive sleepiness are common all over the world and can cause major health problems.
50 to 70 million adult Americans suffer from sleep disorders, especially insomnia. Meanwhile, a meta-analysis of 17 studies found that 15 percent of people in China suffer from insomnia. It is crucial to examine the elements that support high-quality sleep to better understand such conditions. According to previous studies, leading a healthy lifestyle, including eating right and exercising regularly, is beneficial.(Read also: Adults who exercise 2-4 times a week have a lower risk of death: study )
Previous studies have shown that a good lifestyle, including a healthy diet and regular exercise, is beneficial for a good night’s sleep. However, a systematic comprehensive study is lacking in this area of research.
To that end, a team of researchers from Japan, Canada and Taiwan – led by Associate Professor Javad Koohsari of the School of Knowledge Science at the Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (JAIST), who is also an adjunct researcher in the Faculty of Sport Sciences at Waseda University, investigated the interrelationship between sedentary behavior, physical activity and sleep quality in a sample of the middle-aged Japanese population.
The research group, consisting of Professor Yukari Nagai, also from JAIST; Professor Akitomo Yasunaga of Bunka Gakuen University; University of Tsukuba Associate Professor Ai Shibata; Professor Yung Liao of National Taiwan Normal University; Associate Professor Gavin R. McCormack of the University of Calgary, and Professor Koichiro Oka and Professor Kaori Ishii of Waseda University, based their study on Japanese adults between the ages of 40 and 64 – a crucial window of time that often marks the onset of various health problems. Their work was recently published in Scientific Reports.
The researchers used an isotemporal substitution approach, which estimates the effect of replacing one activity type with another over the same amount of time. Dr. Koohsari said, “We replaced 60 minutes of sedentary behavior or light physical activity with moderate to vigorous physical activity in the participants’ schedules.”
An accelerometer tracked the participants’ level of physical activity for seven consecutive days. A questionnaire was then used to assess the participants’ sleep and rest quality.
Indeed, replacing sedentary behavior with moderate to intense exercise improved sleep quality. Interestingly, this association was seen to be gender-based and only found in females. This is consistent with reports that have shed light on gender-related differences in sleep disorders. However, more studies are needed to understand why these gender-related differences occur.
In summary, this study adds to the existing pool of studies providing empirical evidence of the importance of exercise in promoting good quality sleep. Hopefully, these studies will serve as a useful platform for further research into the prevention of sleep-related disorders.
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