The story we published last week about what foods can help you fall asleep was our most-read story of the week, so we get the feeling our readers appreciate tips on how to catch better shuteye. Following that line of thinking, a new study published in the journal, Sleep Journal, tried to uncover whether moving your body during the day helps you sleep better at night.
To address this question, they looked at healthy adults who, on average, sleep about 7 hours per night. Participants were divided into two groups: an Intervention group instructed to increase their daily steps by at least 2,000 (about one mile for an average person), and a Control group that received no such instruction. Both groups were given Fitbits to monitor their daily steps, and the researchers compared the two groups’ responses to questionnaires about their sleep, including both how long they slept and the quality of their sleep.
What the results showed was that overall, the walking intervention led to significantly better sleep — but only among female participants. The improvement was in sleep quality, not sleep duration, meaning the women slept better but not longer.
That’s not all though. More detailed analyses that focused on individuals rather than simply dividing the participants into two groups (Control vs. Intervention) found sleep benefits from walking for both men and women. On days that a person walked more than their average number of steps, they had improved sleep quality and duration.
Long story short, you’re likely to sleep better when you’re more physically active than you tend to be. Perhaps that’s not entirely groundbreaking news, but it might just motivate you to take an extra walk at night before you go to bed.