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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

Need a Good Night's Sleep? Try Exercising, or Nursing

Published March 4, 2013 9:11 AM by Linda Jones
Self-described exercisers claim to get "a good night's sleep" more often than self-described non-exercisers, according to the National Sleep Foundation's 2013 Sleep in America® poll. Both groups report the same amount of sleep on weeknights (just under seven hours).

Of those who exercise (at any level: vigorous, moderate or light), more than half report getting a good night's sleep every night or almost every night. Only 39% of the non-exercises make the same claim.

This raises the question, do people sleep well because they exercise, or exercise because they are well rested? "While cause and effect can be tricky, I don't think having good sleep necessarily compels us to exercise," said Max Hirshkowitz, PhD, poll task force chair. "I think it is much more likely that exercising improves sleep."

As a "self-described exerciser," I can support these findings. I believe I sleep well most nights. On some nights it's definitely because I got my butt kicked at the gym. That said, if there is a night where I don't sleep well, I pay for it at the gym. So, one definitely impacts the other.

As healthcare professionals, you certainly know that both are good for you: sleeping well and exercising. The real question: is there enough time in the day to fit both of those things in after a 12-hour shift, one-hour commute, errands and household chores - not to mention those children looking at you like you should be feeding them.

Good news. As nurses, your work alone may be enough to result in a good night's sleep. According to the survey, "Separate from exercise, spending less time sitting may improve sleep quality and health. Those who sit for less than eight hours per day are significantly more likely to say they have "very good" sleep quality than those who sit for eight hours or more."

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posted by Linda Jones

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