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# The Effects of Acute Exercise on Sleep: A Quantitative Synthesis

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We used meta-analytic methods to examine the influence of acute exercise on sleep. Thirty-eight studies were reviewed yielding 211 effects on 401 subjects. Mean effect sizes were calculated for sleep onset latency (SOL), stage 2, slow-wave sleep (SWS), rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, REM latency (REM-L), total sleep time (TST), and wakefulness after sleep onset (WASO). Moderating influences of subject fitness, heat load, exercise duration, time of day, associated light environment (i.e. indoor or outdoor), sleep schedule, and the scientific quality of the studies were examined. Effect sizes for SWS, REM, REM-L, and TST were moderate [0.18–0.52 standard deviation (SD)] and their associated 95% confidence intervals did not include zero. Exercise duration and time of day were the most consistent moderator variables. In contrast with previous hypotheses, heat load had little influence on sleep. The results of our quantitative synthesis of the literature are inconsistent with previous narrative reviews (1,2) which suggested that exercise elicits larger changes in sleep than those quantified in this meta-analysis. A major delimitation of published studies on the effects of acute exercise has been an exclusive focus on good sleepers. Hence, the effects we report herein may be underestimates of the efficacy of exercise for enhancing sleep among people with sleep disturbances.
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... muscle mass, blood pressure) [82,84]. Improving sleep quality [69,89,90], reducing perceived stress [44] and symptoms of depression [91], regulating stress levels [92], and overall improving quality of life [13,69,82,83] are all ways to improve mental health. Consequently, treatment compliance is enhanced [70,82,91], resulting in a reduction in substance use [93]. ...
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... There is an extensive literature on this topic in adults (94,95). Meta-analyses conducted in the 1990s concluded that exercise had a positive effect on sleep, albeit small (96,97). However, we note that many of the studies included in these meta-analyses were conducted in good sleepers, thus limiting the potential improvement of sleep through a ceiling effect. ...
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