Purpose: To investigate whether chronic vigorous exercising is related to improved sleep and psychological functioning, and whether this association varies with gender. Both lay and scientific opinions hold that physical activity is an efficient remedy and preventative measure for poor sleep. However, empirical evidence on adolescents is very limited.
Methods: A total of 434 adolescents (258 athletes, 176 controls; mean age 17.2 years) took part in the study. Weekly hours spent exercising were 17.69 hours and 4.69 hours, respectively. To assess sleep patterns and psychological functioning, participants completed a sleep log for 7 consecutive days and several self-rating questionnaires.
Results: Compared with controls, athletes reported better sleep patterns including higher sleep quality, shortened sleep onset latency, and fewer awakenings after sleep onset, as well as less tiredness and increased concentration during the day. Athletes reported significantly lower anxiety and fewer depressive symptoms. Compared with males, females reported fewer variations in sleep. Male controls had particularly unfavorable scores related to sleep and psychological functioning.
Conclusions: Findings suggest that chronic vigorous exercising is positively related to adolescents' sleep and psychological functioning. Results also indicate that males with low exercise levels are at risk for increased sleep complaints and poorer psychological functioning.
Copyright 2010 Society for Adolescent Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.