According to an article on the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website, at least 40 million Americans suffer from some form of sleep disorder ( Inadequate sleep can lead to a host of medical problems, interfere with work performance and degrade quality of life. The article also reported that medical costs associated with sleep disorders add up to about $16 billion per year. But there may be a solution: exercise.

A report published recently in the journal Mental Health and Physical Activity (2011; 4 [2], 65–69) suggests that individuals who exercise regularly report better-quality sleep. The study included data on 3,081 adults, aged 18–85, who answered questions about their sleep and physical activity. Those who engaged in at least 150 minutes of physical activity weekly were associated with 65% better sleep quality. They also tended to fall asleep faster, and they reported less daytime sleepiness than those who were minimally active.

“Our findings demonstrate a link between regular physical activity and perceptions of sleepiness during the day, which suggests that participation in physical activity on a regular basis may positively influence an individual’s productivity at work, or in the case of a student, influence their ability to pay attention in class,” explained study author Paul Loprinzi, assistant professor at Bellamine University in Kentucky.