Want Better Sleep? Do This Simple Trick

Getting the required eight hours of sleep is difficult to accomplish in this day and age with demanding lifestyles and high-pressure jobs. Usage of technology has also played a significant role in disturbing patterns of people, impacting physical and mental health. Ultimately, weakening the immune system. This is clearly indicated by the staggering number of people who are regularly sleep-deprived in the United States. 

According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, 50 million Americans suffer from more than 80 different sleeping disorders. The National Institutes of Health has projected a massive sleep debt to accumulate by the middle of the twenty first century because they believe that 100 million Americans will have problems sleeping at night by then. 

It has taken a huge toll on health already. Not sleeping enough impairs functioning the next day by being unable to focus, decreased alertness and altered moods. Lack of sleep can also lead to automobile accidents and heart attacks in worst case scenarios. 

Sleep hygiene is the most popularly suggested solution by general clinicians and psychologists, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The tips are to switch off technology, avoid caffeine, develop a nighttime routine and find a dark relaxing room to fall asleep. 

While these steps do work, there is more research needed into what can tire people out naturally. Previous research had said that high intensity workouts could make people more sleepy. But the latest study brings to the fore the advantage of walking more everyday on quality of sleep in middle-aged people since they are most affected demographic. Especially since the body does not always permit them to do high impact exercises. 

What The New Study Said

Researchers at the psychology department of Brandeis University recruited 59 people from the greater Boston area to participate anywhere between October 2015 and August 2016 in the study.

The month-long study had people with an average age of 49 and a half years, with 72 percent of them being female. The aim of the study was to make the participants take more steps and increase their physical activity during the day. They observed monthly and daily physical activity of the participants and compared it to their quality of sleep. 

The participants were asked to add 2,000 steps to their daily routine, which were monitored on the Fitbit Zip app they strapped on for four entire weeks. Every day, the participants submitted assessments of sleep quality and duration, which were measured against their habits prior to the intervention. At the end of the month, the results said that the duration of sleep was not extended by walking, it was only the quality of sleep that had reportedly improved, especially for the women participating. 

"Within persons, on days that participants were more active than average, they reported better sleep quality and duration in both sexes. Results suggest that low-impact physical activity is positively related to sleep, more so in women than men. Findings also showed that physical activity plays a greater role in predicting sleep quality than duration,” the authors of the study said. 

“Recommendations for increasing daily steps could be a feasible way to improve sleep … as most Americans have a fitness tracker or smartphone with the capability of measuring steps,” the researchers added. 

Woman sleeping on hammock A woman resting on a hammock. Photo courtesy of Katya Austin, Public Domain