Exercise and sleep. Sleep and exercise. Does it? Or doesn’t it?

Posted by on Jun 18, 2012 in exercise, hot flash, sleep disturbance | 4 comments

Among the many repeated themes on Flashfree, exercise and sleep rank highly. After all, exercise and physical activity are musts for women as they age. And sleep? Well, that goes without saying.  However, although study findings have been fairly consistent with regard to connecting regular or vigorous physical activity to a reduction in some menopausal symptoms, the verdict is still out on sleep.

Sleep. Let me tell you; I sure could use some help in that department!

So what’s the latest and greatest? Does it? Or doesn’t it? Well, a study reported last month in the early online edition of Maturitas journal suggests that it might. The researchers write that studies that have evaluated the effects of aerobic activity on sleep are few and far between, and the results, contradictory. Still, they examined what would happen if they took a group of 176 sedentary women between the ages of 43 and 63 and subjected them to aerobic exercise training for six months. The exercise that half the women were asked to do consisted of 50 minutes of walking (or nordic walking with sticks) for two sessions and other aerobic activity for two sessions per week. The degree of the exercise was moderate, corresponding to about 64% to 80% of their target heart rates. The other half of the group remained sedentary. But both were asked to report via mobile phones how much hot flashes disrupted their sleep, and how much they slept every day on a scale of 1 to 5 (5=good, 1=poor).

The findings were pretty favourable. Women who exercised for 6 months experienced a 2% improvement in sleep quality compared to the women who didn’t (whose sleep quality, incidentally, declined by a half percent). Moreover, the exercise group, who had reported having hot flashes disturbing their sleep changed their tune by six to 10 weeks after starting their four times weekly routines and reported significantly fewer episodes than their sedentary peers.

Some may question that methods used to collect information; for example, studies that rely on recall are often called into question for accuracy and mobile phone data collection is uncommon. Still, the study was longer that most and the researchers validated their findings by scientific methods. That aside, since many readers come here to read the bottom line, is that regular exercise may improve sleep. It definitely affects quality of life and has a positive emotional benefit. Whether or not a 2% improvement is enough is really subjective. For me? I am happy to sleep through the night these days!


  1. 6-18-2012

    This is not scientific in any way, shape, or form and I am not yet having hot flashes, but I always recommend exercise to friends who have insomnia or have trouble going back to sleep if they wake up in the middle of the night. I ride my bike nearly every day and, let me tell you, I have zero problem sleeping. It’s no surprise the group who exercised saw an increase in sleep.

    • 6-18-2012

      Gini, like you, i ride often. and i do believe that regular exercise solves a lot. However, hormones are a tough nut to crack. if exercise brings relief? it becomes a win-win times two. Thanks for commenting!

  2. 6-20-2012

    Sleep and exercise are not just good for your health but also to keep younger looking skin:)

    • 6-20-2012

      It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep can do, period!

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