Updated: Feb 18

Almost 90% of Australians suffer from some sort of sleeping disorder. That’s a lot of people that lack good, restorative sleep.

Insomnia is classified as difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or non-restorative sleep, and this can be quite distressing for most people.

There are two-types of insomnia, based on whether or not it has started due to a medical condition (Secondary Insomnia) or has started insidiously (Primary Insomnia). There are a lot of different treatments and options to try and help reduce the severity, including pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions.

If you are interested in non-pharamcological intervention then keep reading.

There have been several studies into the effect of exercise (type, duration etc.) and insomnia. Of these studies, it seems that moderate-intensity aerobic exercise (e.g. walking) significantly improves the sleep for those suffering with chronic insomnia. The same could not be said for those that did vigorous aerobic exercise (e.g. running) or lifting weights. For those that underwent moderate aerobic exercise (single session or long-term exercise) fell asleep more quickly, slept slightly longer and had better quality sleep than before they began exercising.

woman sleep insomnia

So, how would exercising possibly help reduce insomnia?

Well, it could be multiple reasons, including and not exclusive to:

an increase in body temperature during exercise, and the post-workout drop in body temperature may promote sleepiness; exercise may help with low moods, anxiety, or depressive symptoms (which can also trigger insomnia); or exercise may affect the person’s circadian rhythms (body clock).

Another motivation to help you improve your lifestyle, through exercise.


1. Guilleminault C, Clerk A, Black J, Labanowski M, Pelayo R, Claman D. Nondrug treatment trials in psychophysiologic insomnia. Arch Intern Med. 1995;155(8):838-44.

2. Horne JA, Staff LH. Exercise and sleep: body-heating effects. Sleep. 1983;6(1):36-46.

3. Passos GS, Poyares D, Santana MG, D'Aurea CV, Youngstedt SD, Tufik S, de Mello MT. Effects of moderate aerobic exercise training on chronic primary insomnia. Sleep Med. 2011;12(10):1018-27. 

4. Passos GS, Poyares D, Santana MG, Garbuio SA, Tufik S, de Mello MT. Effect of acute physical exercise on patients with chronic primary insomnia. J Clin Sleep Med. 2010;6(3):270-275.

5. Reid KJ, Baron KG, Lu B, Naylor E, Wolfe L, Zee PC. Aerobic exercise improves self-reported sleep and quality of life in older adults with insomnia. Sleep Med. 2010;11(9):934-40.


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