Study Finds that Exercise Can Counteract the Negative Effects of Not Getting Enough Sleep

Study Finds that Exercise Can Counteract the Negative Effects of Not Getting Enough Sleep
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According to experts, in a perfect world, you should receive both enough sleep as well as enough exercise.

However, a recent study indicates that exercise may be able to mitigate the negative effects on your health that result from not getting enough sleep.

Numerous previous studies have also found a correlation between healthy quantities of each and a longer lifespan.

And at least one of them claimed that although regular exercise reduced the risk of death during the follow-up period, sleep issues seemed to raise that risk.

To learn more about the preventive effects of exercise, a team of researchers from China looked at information gathered in the UK from more than 92,000 individuals aged 40 to 73.

Between 2013 and 2015, participants wore a bracelet for a week to track their sleep and activity patterns, which the researchers used to gauge their way of life.

Years later, the researchers continued to monitor the individuals’ health results. Naturally, people with poor sleep quality or excessive sleep and little exercise were more likely to pass away throughout that time, especially from conditions like cancer or cardiovascular disease.

However, the researchers also found a startling pattern in the data: Even when they slept fewer than 6 hours per night, people who exercised often did not have an elevated risk of passing away of any such health issues.

According to Jihui Zhang, one of the study’s authors, the research reveals that engaging in 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical exercise each week may mitigate some of the negative health effects related to getting too much or too little sleep.

He made it very clear that “Doing something is better than doing nothing.” Regular brief walks or bike rides, for instance, could be beneficial.

Dr. Zhang added that the authors of the current study hypothesized that exercise might help counteract the negative consequences of inadequate sleep by reducing inflammation or perhaps by regulating metabolism and sympathetic nervous system activity.

According to Dr. Virend Somers, a cardiologist who conducts research on the impact of sleep deprivation at the Mayo Clinic, it’s also plausible that insufficient sleep increases the risk of heart disease by increasing blood pressure and preventing insulin resistance.

By controlling blood pressure and improving insulin sensitivity, exercise may be able to combat this.

According to Jennifer Heisz, the author of “Move the Body, Heal the Mind,” the human brain is one of the main places where exercise and sleep interact.

That’s in part because a strenuous workout stimulates the production of adenosine, a substance that acts as a natural sleep aid.

According to her, the more adenosine we produce during the day, the more restful and rejuvenating our sleep is, which may help make up for a few nights of inconsistent sleep.

However, Tianyi Huang, another expert in sleep and heart health, argues that this does not imply individuals should forgo sleep in favor of exercise.

He claimed that those who are unable to get enough sleep are unlikely to have the stamina to be active during the day anyway, particularly if their lack of sleep is the result of a busy job schedule. 

Additionally, earlier workouts may affect your body differently than later ones, according to prior studies, so the issue may be far more complicated than it seems.

Not to mention that not everyone needs the same amount of sleep.

Some individuals may operate normally or feel rested enough with fewer hours, according to Dr. Somers.

Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones suggested that rather than exercise somehow compensating for their lack of sleep, some of the study’s “short sleepers” may have already been refreshed and so better equipped to put in a workout without increasing their cardiovascular risk.


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Katherine is just getting her start as a journalist. She attended a technical school while still in high school where she learned a variety of skills, from photography to nutrition. Her enthusiasm for both natural and human sciences is real so she particularly enjoys covering topics on medicine and the environment.

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