Cardio routine can nurture sweet dreams

Mon Sep 27, 2010 7:49am EDT
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Sleepless and sedentary? Instead of counting sheep in a field, try running through a meadow.

Experts agree that an aerobic exercise routine during the day can keep you from tossing and turning at night, even if they're not sure why.

"The bottom line is we really don't know why people tell us that exercise helps them sleep," said Dr. David Davila of the National Sleep Foundation.

"But if people are normally active, reaching their aerobic goals, chances are they will sleep the right amount for what they need."

Davila, who practices sleep medicine in Little Rock, Arkansas, said the low-grade sleep deprivation suffered by many time-pressed, under-rested Americans has a cumulative effect.

"People have more car accidents and what they call 'presentee-ism', or poor performance, at work," he said. "There are fallouts for the average person."

But evidence is emerging that aerobic exercise can offer relief from insomnia.

A recent study at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois tracked 23 previously sedentary adults, primarily women 55 and older, who had difficulty falling or staying asleep.   Continued...

<p>A man sleeps in a tunnel with one arm resting on a pedal of his bike in central Beijing August 25, 2010. REUTERS/David Gray</p>