Exercise lessens the health risks of poor sleep

Did you know that poor sleep increases your risk of a number of chronic health issues and can lead to premature death? And for those who, no matter what they do, cannot find a good sleep pattern, there is something that they can do to reduce their risk of harm.

SleepHealth.org reports, “In America, 70% of adults report that they obtain insufficient sleep at least one night a month, and 11% report insufficient sleep every night. It is estimated that sleep-related problems affect 50 to 70 million Americans of all ages and socioeconomic classes.”

LiveWell adds, “Lack of sleep can lead to major health issues, and the link between sleep deprivation and chronic disease has grown significantly. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), these diseases include diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression, not to mention profound effects on our mental, emotional and cognitive health.

But what if nothing you try to do to improve your sleep works? What can you do to reduce your risk of harm? The answer may surprise you.

Research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine analyzed the exercise and sleep data of more than 380,000 adults and found that exercise seemed to help counteract the negative health effects of poor sleep.

This study aimed to investigate the joint association of physical activity (PA) and sleep with all-cause and cause-specific mortality risks.

The researchers reported that those with poor sleep and little exercise were 57% more likely to die of any cause than people with better sleep scores who met physical activity guidelines.

Even better, those with poor sleep who met physical activity guidelines had their risk of premature death significantly attenuated.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported:

Participants were given a healthy sleep score based on whether or not they typically got seven to eight hours sleep a night, had insomnia regularly, snored, experienced daytime sleepiness or were an early chronotype – meaning they went to bed early and woke early – which is associated with some potential benefits.

Their sleep score was then combined with a high, medium or low physical activity score (300 or more minutes, 150-300 minutes or less than 150 minutes of physical activity a week respectively) to put them in one of a dozen categories based on the different combinations.

Finally, the researchers tracked the health of the participants over the course of 11 years to assess their risk of dying.

While the poor sleepers had a higher risk of death from any cause, a lack of exercise exacerbated that risk.

Poor sleepers who also exercised the least fared the worst.

This group was 57 per cent more likely to die of any cause than those in the group who generally slept well and met the WHO exercise guidelines of between 150 and 300 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a week.

The news report added,

On the flip side, meeting the physical activity recommendations seemed to compensate for sleep-related health risks.

“It doesn’t undo them but it does attenuate them quite considerably,” says senior author of the study, Professor Emmanuel Stamatakis from the Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney.


© Copyright WLL, INC. 2021. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.

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