For teenagers, the path to a better night’s sleep might go through the gym. In a recent study, researchers at Penn State University found a link between exercise and better, more efficient sleep for adolescents.
Among the study participants, every hour of moderate to vigorous exercise paid a sleep dividend. The teens who exercised fell asleep 18 minutes earlier, slept 10 minutes longer and were better able to stay asleep than those who did not exercise.
Teenagers who didn’t exercise experienced the opposite effect. Researchers found they fell asleep and woke up later but also got less actual sleep time. The findings were published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports.
To establish their findings, the researchers studied the exercise and sleep habits of more than 400 15-year-olds who were outfitted with accelerometers for one week. One of the devices was worn on the hip to record activity. Another was placed on the wrist to record sleep time and movement at night.
A lack of exercise also did more than affect nightly sleep patterns. It spilled into the next day, making those who got less actual sleep less likely to be active the next day.
The research underscores the complicated relationship between sleep and exercise, as changes in day-to-day activity and its effect on sleep are not well-known. Other research has shown that teenagers need eight to 10 hours of sleep each night but up to three-fourths of them fell short of that goal.
So, if your teenager says she feels sluggish in the morning, remind her that relief may be as simple as a regular workout. Hit the gym before you hit the bed!