The vast majority of people have trouble sleeping from time to time.
However, 10 to 20% of the population struggle more than the rest of us and have serious long-term sleep problems.
Many people who struggle with insomnia sooner or later resort to some form of sleeping aid.
But in a study from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, scientists suggest that some of them should exercise instead.
They found that people who are in better physical condition have a lower risk of taking prescription sleeping pills.
In the study, the team reviewed participant data in Norway’s large Trøndelag Health Survey (The HUNT study).
A total of 240,000 people from Trondheim have taken part in the survey since it began in 1984. Four survey rounds have been carried out to date.
The health survey enables researchers to follow how people’s health evolves over many years.
The team found almost 5,800 of the participants received their first prescription sleep medication during the study period.
This means that approximately 17% of the participants’ sleep issues were serious enough to warrant a prescription from their doctor. But the participants who were in the best condition used fewer of these prescription drugs.
These findings suggest that being physically fit can also help you sleep better.
The team also found the beneficial effect of exercise is stronger for men than for women. The fittest men had a 15% lower risk of needing drugs for troublesome sleep issues.
The extensive study follows the adult population over a long period of time. The researchers, therefore, conclude that these findings should influence the sleep advice that doctors give to their patients.
The current findings support the idea that improving or maintaining fitness can be an effective alternative for preventing sleep problems.
For more information about health, please see recent studies about how vitamin B may help fight COVID-19, and results showing move around a lot while you sleep? It might be bad for your heart.
The study was conducted by Linda Ernstsen et al and published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
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