AARR – The effects of nutrition and exercise on sleep Part 3/3: Exercise and sleep


Physical activity alters endocrine, autonomic nervous system (ANS), and somatic functions, therefore daytime exercise should affect sleep. The somatic physiology effects of exercise can result in persistent effects and serve as a robust stimulus to affect sleep’s physiological mechanisms. Appropriate amounts of exercise could alter those mechanisms in a preferable direction.

Factors such as exercise type, intensity, timing, subjects, and differences between acute and chronic exercise all have different effects on sleep. Exercise influence sleep by increasing total sleep time and prolonging REM latency, decreasing REM sleep and increasing SWS. Exercise has the ability to induce circadian phase-shifting effects perhaps as potent as bright light.

An important distinction between acute and chronic exercise effects on sleep is that chronic exercise substantially changes somatic functions in ways one bout of exercise does not, such as long-term improvements in body composition, basic metabolic rate, cardiac function, glycemic control, immune function and exercise also improves mood state.

Results from several studies indicate that most athletes from several sports are sleep deprived and obtain between 5-7h of sleep per night. One factor that may contribute to the low habitual sleep duration observed in athletes is their training schedule. Sleep/wake behavior in athletes depends on the time of day that they are required to train. For example, training in the early morning can be detrimental, evening exercise is not associated with worse sleep and vigorous late-night exercise does not disturb sleep quality. The effects of exercise on sleepiness are most pronounced when exercise is performed in the middle of the night.

Several other factors that can influence sleep, such as anxiety during intensive training which interfere with sleep onset; hydration programs that can increase the frequency of toilet visits; and muscle soreness and physical discomfort associated with high-intensity training that can also disturb sleep.

Exercise by increasing alertness and releasing different neurochemical substances during its realization can mask the effects of sleep deprivation when it occurs simultaneously. This could be effective for athletic performance if levels of perceived effort are decreased by exercise in a sleep deprived state.

Potential interventions for increasing sleep duration in sleep deprived athletes are discussed. Exercise can be used strategically to improve sleep, possibly aid in sleep deprivation, and induce phase-shifts in sleep in jet lag conditions.

AARR, November 2016
4680 words, 91 references
Full article at www.alanaragon.com/aarr

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Exercise and nutrition

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