Physical activity and sleep

Physical activity and sleep 

As we have learnt during the neuroscience course, sleep has many advantages. Doherty et al. (2021) and Malhotra (2018) mention that over the last years, it has been demonstrated the enormous importance of sleep duration and quality on sport and physical activity recovery. Moreover, it is not only beneficial for recovering after exercising, but also for body’s functional recovery (Duss et al., 2017).  

However, the relationship between sleep and physical activity is not unidirectional. Physical activity can influence sleep as well. However, researchers do not agree on ruling which are the benefits of PA on sleep and what type of PA is the most beneficial. 

Kredlow et al., (2015) concluded that acute exercise has small benefits on total sleep time, sleep onset latency and efficiency. Moreover, they stated that regular exercise has small beneficial effects on total sleep time and sleep efficiency, moderate benefits on sleep quality and small-to-medium benefits on sleep onset latency. Wang and Boros (2021) agreed on the fact that PA is beneficial for sleeping, however they concluded that moderate exercise has a more promising outcome on sleep quality than on vigorous exercise and there was not any statement about sleep time. Sullivan et al., (2018, p. 492) did neither found data to relate PA and sleep duration; “on days in which participants took more steps and spent more time active than average, they reported better sleep quality and longer sleep durations”. However, they also stated that sleep quality is more malleable than sleep duration because sleep duration depends on individual’s schedule.  

Lang et al., (2015) researched the relationship between sleep and PA from mid adolescence to early adulthood; “adolescents with higher subjective and objective PA are more likely to experience good sleep subjectively and objectively” (Lang et al., 2015, p. 32). Ghrouz et al (2018) found a significant association of poor sleep quality with anxiety and depression among college students. 

On the other hand, Sullivan et al. (2018) mention than future research should be done focusing on sex differences. They found that PA has benefits on sleep quality and duration, but more significantly on women’s sleep. Moreover, Wang and Boros (2021), Sullivan et al. (2018), Lang et al. (2015) and Kredlow et al., (2015) agreed that future research ought to be done in order to analyze the influence of distinct factors such as age, sex, socioeconomic context, and sleep measuring protocols. Sullivan et al. (2018) suggest that if future research is done, metrics like step counts or daily activity time could be used for predicting sleep quality and sometimes duration as well in middle-age and older adults. 


Stay tuned! Our next post will reveal the exciting results of physical activity we have done for this research in relation to our sleep and mood states records. 



Duss, S. B., Seiler, A., Schmidt, M. H., Pace, M., Adamantidis, A., Müri, R. M. & Bassetti, C. L. The role of sleep in recovery following ischemic stroke: a review of human and animal data. Neurobiology of sleep and circadian rhythms, 2, 94-105.

Doherty, R., Madigan, S. M., Nevill, A., Warrington, G. and Ellis, J. G. The sleep and recovery practices of athletes. Nutrients, 13, 1-25.  

Ghrouz, A.K., Noohu, M.M., Dilshad Manzar, M. et al. (2019). Physical activity and sleep quality in relation to mental health among college students. Sleep Breath 23, 627–634. 

Kredlow, M. A., Capozzoli, M. C., Hearon, B. A., Calkins, A. W. and Otto, M. W. (2015). The effects of physical activity on sleep: a meta-analytic review. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 38(3), 427-449. DOI 10.1007/s10865-015-9617-6 

Lang, C., Kalak, N., Brand, S., Holsboer-Trachsler, E., Pühse, U. and Gerber, M. The relationship between physical activity and sleep from mid adolescence to early adulthood. A systematic review of methodological approaches and meta-analysis. Sleep Mecidine Reviews, 28, 32-45.  

Malhotra, R. (2017). Sleep, recovery and performance in sports. Neurologic Clinics, 35(3), 547-557.  

Sullivan, A. N., Robinson, S. A. and Lachman, M. E. (2019). Walk to a better night of sleep: testing the relationship between physical activity and sleep. Sleep Health, 5, 487-494.

Wang, F. and Boros, S. (2021). The effect of physical activity on sleep quality: a systematic review. European Journal of Physiotherapy, 23(1), 11-18.