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December 30, 2022. Getting ready for a Happy New Year’s Eve? Probably gonna sleep late the next morning, huh? So this might be a good time to think about sleep.

All of us do it, and all of us have opinions about it. Surveys show that more than 75% of us think poor sleep causes health problems. 25% of us miss work or important family functions due to lack of sleep. And more than 25% of us report being frequently too sleep-deprived to have sex. I think this calls for a resolution.

“I Will Exercise Moderately To Improve My Sleep.” Say it again.
There are studies galore showing significant improvements in sleep result from regular moderate exercise. The title of this report tells the story: “Daily morning running for 3 weeks improved sleep and psychological functioning in healthy adolescents compared with controls”. The conclusion: “Thirty minutes of running in the morning during weekdays for 3 consecutive weeks impacted positively on sleep and psychological functioning. Objective sleep improved (slow-wave sleep increased; sleep onset latency decreased) in the running group compared with the control group. Subjective sleep quality, mood, and concentration during the day improved, whereas sleepiness during the day decreased.

This study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, “Moderate-intensity exercise and self-rated quality of sleep in older adults”, reported a randomized controlled trial of men and women “aged 50 to 76 years who were sedentary, free of cardiovascular disease, and reported moderate sleep complaints. The conclusion: “Older adults with moderate sleep complaints can improve self-rated sleep quality by initiating a regular moderate-intensity exercise program.“.

If you really have it bad, “Effects of moderate aerobic exercise training on chronic primary insomnia” concludes: “Long-term moderate aerobic exercise elicited significant improvements in sleep, quality of life and mood in individuals with chronic primary insomnia.” Further supporting the notion of “moderation in everything”, this study, “Effect of acute physical exercise on patients with chronic primary insomnia”, showed that “Acute moderate-intensity aerobic exercise appears to reduce pre-sleep anxiety and improve sleep in patients with chronic primary insomnia.” Note that moderate intensity aerobic exercise did the trick – but high-intensity aerobics and moderate-intensity strength exercise did not.

What about the sex thing?
I don’t want you to think the title of today’s Way is a cheap trick, so here you go.

First, get some exercise so you’re not too tired to have sex. Second, you do get some exercise when you have sex, but not quite enough to matter. If sleep deprivation is causing sex deprivation, a little sex won’t solve the sleep problem. At least not in terms of overall, ongoing sleep deprivation. And it’s not enough to produce weight loss, if you think that’s part of the problem. But it just might be enough to prevent weight gain.

This recent study at the University of Quebec in Montreal compared running on a treadmill with sex. “The present study indicates that energy expenditure during sexual activity appears to be approximately 85 kcal or 3.6 kcal/min and seems to be performed at a moderate intensity in young healthy men and women. These results suggest that sexual activity may potentially be considered, at times, as a significant exercise. Moreover, both men and women reported that sexual activity was highly enjoyable and more appreciated than the 30-min exercise session on the treadmill.

They probably didn’t need the study to determine that sex in bed was more enjoyable than a run on the treadmill. But this study is the first to accurately and reliably measure the calorie-burning benefit of sex. The 25-minute average duration of the sex burned a little less than the extra 100 calories that most of us need to burn daily to prevent weight gain. The comparative activity, a moderate-intensity 30-minute treadmill run, burned more than 250 calories. Do that five times a week and, with a low glycemic diet, lose weight. And never be too tired for sex. Happy New Year! And sleep well.

Help someone you love sleep Better. How about somebody you just like a lot? Either Way, it’s just $10 for a Happy One-Year Gift Subscription to Better Cheaper Slower.

Bed time?
There’s a lot of evidence indicating that nobody slept for a block of eight consecutive hours before the Industrial Revolution. Or before electric light. Seems that most people slept in two or more segments each night. A few hours at a time, separated by periods of “resting wakefulness”. And, of course, there are many examples of regular napping, from a siesta after lunch to encouraged napping at Google headquarters. For fascinating reading, try Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep by David Randall.

Every Thing is Everything
Why does exercise improve sleep? Probably because it reduces the levels of inflammatory substances circulating in our bloodstream. These inflammatory “markers” are strongly associated with depression, obesity and diabetes, three leading causes of sleepiness and fatigue. And with cardiovascular disease. If you’d like to know more about this before you commit to Resolution #1, click here for “The anti-inflammatory effect of exercise” in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

It’s Always Something: The Man in the Moon
Evidence that the Lunar Cycle Influences Human Sleep” is the title of a report published in Current Biology. I’m not making this up. You know I do the research for you. It seems that most of us get less sleep during the full moon. And it takes longer to fall asleep around the time of the full moon. Next chance to see if it affects you: January 10. So while you’re waiting to fall asleep, see how your New Year exercise program’s working out.

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