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With so much stress and anxiety associated with our fast-paced society, time exercising is the only outlet for a large portion of the population to dissipate this tension and help manage your chronic insomnia.

In the United States, over 80 percent of the population do not meet the national's government physical activity recommendations for aerobic and muscle strengthening exercises. What's more, almost half of Americans are not exercising sufficiently in order to have any significant impact on their health [1]. Growing numbers of citizens suffering from obesity and hypertension are partnered with inactivity, resulting in increasing number of patients diagnosed with anxiety disorders and chronic insomnia. Regular exercise has been proven in various studies to reduce anxiety leading to healthier sleep — an easy lifestyle modification for your chronic insomnia treatment [2].

Number 1: Adjust Your Schedule to Not Work-Out Late 

This is an adjustment that should be done if possible but could be "easier said than done" for many. If you are working a normal "9 to 5" job, by the time you get home, de-stress, have dinner and spend time with your family, it can already be 8 at night. Vigorous late-night exercises can make it hard for you to fall asleep and can lead to chronic post-workout insomnia if you are not careful.

Researchers recommend that a person will find the greatest benefit from exercising on their sleep patterns if they are able to complete their exercises 3 hours prior to their bedtime. 

This same investigation found that those who exercise were more likely to spend more time in the Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) portion of their sleep, attributing to healthier sleep pattern. [3

This finding is very important but to understand why, you must first understand the two main processes that occur when you fall asleep. Your brain cycles through two phases of activity during the night, grouped into Non-REM sleep and REM sleep. Non-REM sleep is the first stage and is made up of smaller physiological changes to help you remember significant events during the day — we have the restorative deep sleep that we need to function the next day. Then we travel into REM sleep where we dream and prepare for our next round of deep sleep from another Non-REM cycle. It is proven that exercising increases the ease of falling into a deep sleep, therefore we will be better rested and we will notice improvements in not only our chronic insomnia, but also other chronic conditions.[4]

Number 2: Commit to a Long-Term Plan

When trying to cure your chronic insomnia through natural sleep aids, the most important thing is to be consistent with your approach. Insomnia is often times a manifestation of imbalances between your stress and your lifestyle so it is paramount to make sure you are implementing changes in your life that can benefit you.

A study was done with the aim of determining how beneficial long-term exercise regimens were in helping patients suffering from chronic insomnia. At the conclusion of this investigation, researchers found that participants that were able to consistently exercise for 6 months had significant improvements in:

  • their subjective tension-anxiety surveys,
  • time spent sleeping and
  • quality of life [5]. 

A similar study was launched to quantify the basic requirements to decide how long a person needed to exercise during each training in order to achieve these benefits.

It was determined that if one is able to exercise in a moderate-to-high intensity exercise routine at least 2-3 hours per week, they will notice the improvements in sleep.

It was also determined that there was no difference in response if a subject exercises in the morning or the late-afternoon. [6]

Number 3: Make Sure You Are Doing the Right Type of Exercises

There are an infinite number of the types, routines and difficulty levels of exercise programs so it is imperative you are doing the right types of exercises to treat your chronic insomnia. 

In a study testing what specific exercise routines produced the most substantial benefits, women who were suffering from primary chronic insomnia were grouped in either no exercise, light aerobic exercise, mild aerobic exercises or intense aerobic exercises. This roughly translates into sedentary group, walking, jogging and running group. Participants were encouraged to exercise for as long as they could until they were fatigued and then their sleeping habits were monitored later that night for a 12-week period.

At the conclusion of the study, it was determined that participants that preformed mild-intensity aerobic exercises were found to have the most significant benefit from the various groups in sleep quality, mood and satisfaction.

Although the groups were not significantly different, there was also subjective improvements overall in all groups which exercised compared to the control, sedentary group. [7]

In conclusion, it is obvious that exercising has a beneficial impact on chronic insomnia and should be a lifestyle modification that can help patients cope with the disease. In ideal circumstances, those with chronic insomnia should exercise in the morning or late afternoon consistently and try to focus on mild-intensity aerobic workouts to find the best results. For even better results, people with chronic insomnia should include melatonin rich foods to help them get a good night's sleep.