Data obtained from a national household survey in Greece (n=1005) were used to assess the relationship between physical activity and insomnia in a group of subjects suffering from several major disabling physical illnesses. A self-administered questionnaire with questions pertaining to general health and related issues was given to the participants. The Short Form-36, the Athens Insomnia Scale (AIS), and the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) were included in the assessment. Half (49.5%) of the participants had moderate or vigorous physical activity and 33.4% had a chronic somatic disease. The prevalence of insomnia in the total sample was 25.3% (n=254); subjects having moderate or vigorous physical activity were 56% less likely to have insomnia in univariate analysis. Multiple analysis revealed a significant interaction of physical activity with heart failure or myocardial ischemia (OR=0.054, 95% CI: 0.003-0.95), indicating that subjects having moderate or vigorous physical activity and heart failure or myocardial ischemia had lower odds for having insomnia compared to individuals with heart problems and low physical activity levels. Consequently, cardiac patients suffering from insomnia seem to benefit from physical exercise. Since sleep disorders are quite frequent in cardiac patients and may result in both physical and psychological complications which deteriorate even further their quality of life and health, our results need replication in this particularly vulnerable population.
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