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The best medicine for insomnia

By: Arien Fuentes

Insomnia is one of the biggest problems that affects many Americans each year. Nearly 60 million Americans experience sleeping disorders that prevent them from getting the rest they need to carry on with their day. Gayle Greene, author of Insomniac, explains how insomnia is usually mistaken as “a bad night”, and few people realize how draining sleep deprivation can be.

“Sleep is the fuel of life”, says Green. “It’s nourishing; it restorative. And when you are deprived of it, you are really deprived of a basic kind of sustenance.” Studies have proven over and over that people who get less than 7 hours of sleep are at higher risks of heart disease and other health problems. Insomnia can be caused by many things such as stress, lack of physical activity, or a poor diet.

Researchers at the University of Arizona, in Tucson, decided to use the data on sleep and activity of 429,110 adults from the 2013 Behavioral Risk Surveillance System, a survey collected every year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Respondents were asked the amount of sleep they got the type of physical activity they would usually do. The most common type of physical activity done was walking. Others included jogging/running, swimming, Yoga, gardening, biking, and household/ childcare.

The Data analysis showed that while walking was beneficial, activities such as bicycling and running were more likely to lead to healthy sleep. All physical activities showed that they were positively impacting sleep except household and childcare. “Not only does this study show that those who get exercise simply by walking are likely to have better sleep habits, but these effects are even stronger for more purposeful activities, such as running and yoga, and even gardening and golf.

It was also interesting that people who receive most of their activity from housework and childcare were more likely to experience insufficient sleep. We know that home and work demands are some of the main reasons people lose sleep”, says lead investigator Michael A. Grandner, PhD, director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, in Tucson.

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