Is your spouse nagging you about not vacuuming the house enough? Do your roommates pressure you into washing the bathroom every few days?
You know the reason that you don’t want to clean is that it’s icky, boring, and very unpleasant. Now, though, you have scientific evidence as a reason to refuse to clean — doing housework makes it more difficult to sleep. The science shows that physical activity in general helps you sleep. Doing chores is physical activity, but chores make your sleep worse. Many specific exercises, though, improve your sleep.
What are the Best Exercises for a Good Night’s Sleep?
The science on this topic is new. It was the result of a study of the exercise and sleep habits of 429,110 adults by the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. The results were presented to the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC on June 8, 2015 in Seattle. “Compared to those who reported that they did not get physical activity in the past month, all types of activity except for household/childcare were associated with a lower likelihood of insufficient sleep,” reported the school’s news release “Yoga, Running, Weight Lifting, and Gardening: Penn Study Maps the Types of Physical Activity Associated with Better Sleep Habits.”
The 429,110 adults were asked to report their activities and how many hours they slept per night. People who were inactive were more apt to get fewer than seven hours of sleep per night. When you get that little sleep, you are more apt to have health problems. Ten activities were studied. Only household work and child care caused more sleeping problems than no activity. Walking improved sleep. The study’s authors were surprised, though, that the other seven activities improved sleep more than walking.
Those seven activities are:
- Aerobics and calisthenics.
- Yoga and pilates.
“The more intensely you exercise, the better you sleep,” is how Details magazine summed up the study in the article “New Study Finds Certain Exercises Lead to Better Sleep.” In fact, it’s the second study within the last few years to conclude that people who exercise intensely are more apt to sleep better than people who exercise less intensely or not at all. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) came to the same conclusion in 2013 after polling 1,000 people between the ages of 23 and 60.
“Vigorous exercisers are almost twice as likely as non-exercisers to report “I had a good night’s sleep” every night or almost every night during the week,” the NSF report said. “They also are the least likely to report sleep problems.”
For decades, doctors believed that exercising within a few hours of going to sleep would disrupt sleep. The report said, though, that this is false. In fact, people who exercise later in the day have the same sleep quality as early exercisers. “This finding contradicts long-standing “sleep hygiene” tips that advise everyone not to exercise close to bedtime,” the report says.
If you are having sleeping problems, you should consider aerobic exercise, a Northwestern (Ill.) University study said. The WebMD article on the study, “Exercise Helps You Sleep,” said that the sleep of people who began exercising about 160 minutes per week improved a lot. Many poor sleepers became good sleepers during the 16-week study. They also had more energy and fewer depression problems during the day.
Aerobic exercise is continuous exercise. It is a better exercise for people with sleeping problems than stop-and-start exercises such as baseball and golf. The aerobic exercises that improved the sleep of people in the study included:
- Exercising on a treadmill.
- Riding a stationary bike.