Staying active may help promote healthy sleep in middle-age

“Staying active won’t cure sleep complaints, but it will reduce the odds of them,” lead author Rodney Dishman said in a news release. “The more active you stay, the better off you’ll be.”The authors report that our fitness level tends to decline as we age. One way of measuring fitness is with a treadmill endurance test. People who are fit can walk or run on a treadmill longer as the speed and incline increases.

The long-term study measured the fitness of more than 8,000 men and women. They performed the treadmill test at four clinic visits. Each visit was separated by an average of two to three years.

Results show that sleep complaints increased as fitness level declined between the ages of 51 and 56 years. The odds of developing a sleep complaint increased 1.7 percent in men and 1.3 percent in women for every minute of lost endurance.

“When participants lost a minute on their treadmill time, they experienced a greater risk of sleeping problems,” said Dishman. He is a professor of kinesiology in the College of Education at the University of Georgia.

Study results are published online ahead of print in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise.Dishman added that regular exercise is the key to maintaining fitness. The CDC physical activity guidelines recommend that adults do both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities each week. Periods of exercise should last at least 10 minutes at a time.

Several new studies point out the negative effects of sleep apnea on brain and heart health. These health risks can be reduced by treating sleep apnea with CPAP therapy. CPAP provides gently pressurized air through a mask that you wear during sleep.