To sleep better, don’t forget to move

Ten thousand steps and more. Would sleeping well become a privilege? Already somewhat weighed down in recent years, the sleep of the French has deteriorated further with the pandemic.

Currently, nearly two-thirds of adults (63%) report “Sleep problems in the last eight days”, according to the last wave of the CoviPrev survey, released on September 23. The phenomenon is not temporary. This proportion has remained permanently high (oscillating between 59% and 67%) since the first confinement in March 2020, when Public Health France launched the regular monitoring of a few mental health indicators, monitoring which is based on online questionnaires with ‘samples of 2,000 people over 18 years of age. At the time of the previous survey in the general population, the 2017 Health Barometer, a little less than one in two French people (49.4%) were affected by sleep problems in the previous eight days.

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For a majority of us, it is urgent to set up parades to find more peaceful nights. Maintain regular times of getting up and going to bed, including weekends; exposure to daylight, especially in the morning; make a digital curfew… The rules of hygiene of life promoting a quality sleep are well known, listed for example on the site of the National Institute of Sleep and Vigilance.

Synchronizer of all biological rhythms

Let’s focus on the role of our favorite therapy: physical activity. In individuals with no particular sleep problem, regular movement reduces the time it takes to fall asleep and improves the overall quality of sleep. Regular physical activity especially increases slow deep sleep. Beneficial effects have also been shown in insomniacs or in patients with sleep apnea.

The sleep-physical activity relationship is also bidirectional, as shown in particular a study including more than 38,000 participants in the British Biobank cohort, followed for seven years (Preventive Medicine, volume 143, February 2021).

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Compared to people who were very active at the start and end of the study, being physically inactive at baseline and reduced physical activity over time were associated with a higher likelihood of poor sleep during the period. regular. At the same time, participants with “intermediate” or “poor” sleep at baseline had higher risks of physical inactivity at follow-up than those with healthy sleep. The evolution towards healthy sleep over time attenuated these negative associations, the authors point out.

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To sleep better, don’t forget to move