A recent survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation (2011) revealed that 40 million Americans suffer from at least one of over 70 different sleep disorders, with 60% of adults reporting sleep problems two nights a week or more. Up to 40% of adults report at least occasional difficulty sleeping, and the National Institute of Health states that chronic and severe forms of insomnia affect between 10 to 15% of adults. Even small disruptions in sleep can negatively impact your safety and performance at work (American Psychological Association, 2004).
According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep is essential for a person’s overall health and well-being. Yet, as revealed from the statistics above, millions of Americans do not get enough sleep and consequently suffer. Research from the National Institute of Health (2007) shows that too little sleep or not enough restorative sleep can seriously affect the way we think, behave, form memories and perform at work and school. Further studies have found that untreated sleep disorders have been linked to hypertension, heart disease, stroke, depression, diabetes, and other chronic diseases (National Sleep Foundation, 2011).
It is believed that lower brain metabolism during slow-wave sleep provides a rest period for the brain (Buckworth & Dishman, 2002). Sleep includes slow wave sleep (often characterized as important for body repair and maintenance), rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep (during which dreams typically occur), and N2 sleep which constitutes more than half of our overall sleep time (National Sleep Foundation, 2013).
“Let’s Move” Tip of the Week
Sleep problems and daytime sleepiness, which is defined as insufficient sleep or sleep deprivation that causes individuals to be sleepy or drowsy during situations where they should be alert, have been reported to be lower among individuals who are physically active compared to those who are sedentary (Sherrill et al. 1998).
Sixty-seven percent of exercisers who partake in vigorous, moderate, and/or light exercise claim to have a “good night’s sleep” every night or almost every night compared to 39% of non-exercisers (Nauert, 2013).
Exercise has been shown to significantly increase sleep time and decrease REM sleep. Substantial increases in total sleep time have been found with exercise lasting longer than one hour (Buckworth & Dishman, 2002). Exercise can help individuals of any age by eliciting circadian phase-shifting effects, which regulates our sleep and wakefulness (Buckworth & Dishman, 2002).
Adding a simple 10 minute walk to your everyday routine could improve the likelihood of a good night’s sleep. You can exercise at any time of the day, but do not exercise at the expense of your sleep (Nauert, 2013).
Lastly, going for a run or attending an exercise class, such as Zumba, spin, or yoga can decrease daytime sleepiness. You will feel more awake and alert throughout the day. A good workout helps speed up your metabolism and energizes you for the day ahead (National Sleep Foundation, 2011).