Often overweight individuals have associated sleep disorders but a new study paves the way for an end to this double whammy. Overweight men with chronic insomnia could start falling asleep more easily and quickly after a six-month aerobic exercise program, according to a joint study conducted by universities in China and Finland.

Insomnia or related sleep disorders which contribute to the inability to fall asleep are very common among overweight individuals especially men. This Reuters report suggests it affects about 40 to 80 percent of overweight men.

Performing aerobic exercise cuts down sedentary time, thus improving cardiovascular function, self-esteem and mood of patients. Senior author of the study Sulin Cheng of Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China and the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland and coauthors studied 45 men between the ages 30 and 65. Almost all were overweight or obese, displaying symptoms of insomnia for 3 months. Half the subjects were grouped together and were sent for aerobic exercise sessions for six months, with a trainer to guide them. This involved five sessions per week of 30 to 60 minutes of working out. With the help of bed sensors, sleep diaries, questionnaires, activity and diet diaries and body measurements, the researchers track the changes in sleep patterns of those who were exercising. The group that performed aerobic exercises for six months took less time falling asleep than those who did not take these sessions.

“People exercising regularly improve their self-control and self-discipline, which in turn has benefits for a general healthier lifestyle,” Christopher E. Kline, a researcher at the University of Pittsburgh Sleep and Chronobiology Center, was quoted as saying. Exercise routine could simply replace medications and pills that are prescribed for these patients. “These pills carry so many side effects (including more and more links to mortality), that I would recommend exercise over hypnotics regardless of effectiveness,” Kline added.

Other research in the past has also indicated that those with sleep disorders should look to work out which will wear them out to the point of sleeping. One way in which anyone can limit the effect of sleep deprivation is by exercising. Physical tiredness is a time-tested way of ensuring a good night’s sleep – something mothers of young kids have been putting into practice for years. So it’s a natural way of fighting sleep disorders. And even though it may not nullify the disorder completely, it’s bound to have benefits on your mind as well.

Running naturally releases endorphins in your brain which leave you with a exhilarated feeling and that rush of energy. It’s been known to be a good way to improve the mental well-being as well as mental fortitude to deal with tough situations. So it can literally counteract the emotion regulation deficiencies caused by sleep deprivation.

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