Reporting on health and quality of life in South LA

Exercising may be key to better sleep, suggests poll

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56131 full

A good workout may be the secret to better sleep – and people who are well-rested are more likely to work out because they have more energy.

See how that works?

That's according to a new poll from the National Sleep Foundation, which highlighted a "strong [relationship] between good sleep and exercise," although it stopped short of describing it as cause-and-effect.

"I think it's much more likely that exercising improves sleep," said Max Hirshkowitz, who chaired the poll, in a news release.

Among the findings:

  • Up to 67 percent of folks who say they exercise – whether it's vigorously, moderately or lightly – say they also have a "good night's sleep" most nights, if not every night, of the week. Only four in 10 of their counterparts who don't exercise say the same.
  • People with vigorous workout routines are the least likely to report sleep problems: 72 percent said they rarely grapple with waking up too early and not being able to get back to sleep, and 69 percent said they almost never have trouble falling asleep.
  • On the other hand, one in two people who don't exercise said they woke up in the middle of the night at least once over the past two weeks, and about one in four said they had trouble falling asleep on most nights, if not every night.
  • Almost one in four people who don't exercise qualify as clinically sleepy; 14 percent say they have trouble staying awake while driving, eating or being social; 44 percent are at moderate risk of sleep apnea.
  • Sitting may also play a role in the quality of people's sleep: People who sit for less than eight hours a day are significantly more likely to report "very good sleep" (about 25 percent) compared to people who sit for eight hours a day or more (about 15 percent).
  • Contrary to longstanding advice against exercising close to bedtime, this poll suggests it may not matter when a person exercise – as long as it doesn't cost any sleep. (The National Sleep Foundation says it has revised its own sleep recommendations guidelines accordingly.)

Hirshkowitz said "a 10 minute walk every day could improve your likelihood of a good night's sleep" – and while that sounds simple, it can be more difficult than it sounds in an urban center like South Los Angeles. There aren't many spaces for exercise to begin with, and a relatively high crime rate narrows those options even further.

But although they are few, there are options – start with our list of five places to take a walk on the southside.

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