Better sleep is unlocked by resistance exercise rather than aerobic workouts, a new study found.
Resistance exercise ‘significantly’ improves the quality and duration people sleep according to the year-long research.
Usually referred to as weight training, resistance exercise uses weights, compared to aerobic exercise which includes walking, running and swimming.
Researchers recommended adding two or more resistance exercise training sessions to your workout routine a week for better sleep.
The findings are a result of a study funded by the US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.
Over the course of a year, researchers 386 adults meeting overweight or obesity criteria.
The participants were randomly assigned into four groups: no exercise, aerobic exercise, resistance exercise and a combination of aerobic and resistance exercise.
People in the exercise groups participated in supervised 60 minute sessions occurring three times a week.
The combination exercise group did 30 minutes of aerobic and 30 minutes of resistance exercise.
A third of participants had poor sleep quality at the start of the study.
Researchers measured sleep duration, sleep efficiency, sleep latency (how much time it takes to fall asleep after getting into bed), and sleep disturbances (how frequently sleep is disturbed by temperature, bathroom breaks and other things).
The study’s findings
For the 42 percent of participants who slept less than seven hours a night at the start, sleep duration increased an average of 40 minutes in 12 months for the resistance exercise group.
That compares to an increase of 23 minutes in the aerobic exercise group, 17 minutes in the combination group and 15 minutes in the no exercise group.
So if you’re struggling to sleep – and to sleep well – it could be better to lift weights than run.
What researchers recommend for better sleep
“It is increasingly recognized that getting enough sleep, particularly high-quality sleep, is important for health including cardiovascular health. Unfortunately, more than a third of Americans don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis,” said study author Angelique Brellenthin, PhD, assistant professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University.
Dr Brellenthin noted: “Resistance exercise significantly improved sleep duration and sleep efficiency, which are critical indicators of sleep quality that reflects how well a person falls asleep and stays asleep throughout the night.
“Therefore, if your sleep has gotten noticeably worse over the past two stressful years, consider incorporating two or more resistance exercise training sessions into your regular exercise routine to improve your general muscle and bone health, as well as your sleep.”