5 Ways Exercise Affects Sleep

Poll reveals reasons to start your fitness routine

daily exercise

If you’re looking for one more reason to start an exercise routine, try this: Exercise will help you sleep.

Advertising Policy

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

The National Sleep Foundation 2013 Sleep in America Poll explores the relationship between physical activity and the quality of sleep. In a survey of 1,000 people representing a cross-section of the country, people who reported exercising regularly also reported getting better sleep.

Here are five results that stand out:

Better sleep1. Exercisers report better sleep

Among exercisers — light, moderate or vigorous — 76 percent to 83 percent reported getting fairly good or very good sleep. The number for non-exercisers was 56 percent.

Advertising Policy

Vigorous exercise2. Vigorous exercise may help insomnia

People who reported doing the most exercise also reported the fewest symptoms of insomnia. More than two-thirds of them said they rarely or never experience symptoms of this common sleep disorder.

Exercise matters day to day3. Exercise matters the day you do it

Whether they were light, moderate or vigorous exercisers, 51 percent reported better sleep on the days they exercised.

Non-exercisers are sleepier4. Non-exercisers are sleepier

Among people who do not exercise, 24 percent were considered excessively sleepy using a standard screening measure. And 61 percent of them reported rarely or never getting a good night’s sleep on work nights.

Advertising Policy

Sleep apnea5. Exercise may help prevent sleep apnea

People who do not exercise may increase their risk for sleep apnea, a sleep disorder in which breathing is interrupted during the night. Forty-four percent of non-exercisers had a moderate risk, compared with just 26 percent for light exercisers.