Effect of acute physical exercise on patients with chronic primary insomnia

J Clin Sleep Med. 2010 Jun 15;6(3):270-5.


Study objectives: The aim was to assess and to compare the acute effects of three different modalities of physical exercise on sleep pattern of patients with chronic primary insomnia.

Methods: Forty-eight insomnia patients, 38 female (mean age 44.4 +/- 8 y) were randomly assigned to 4 groups: control (CTR, n=12), moderate-intensity aerobic exercise (MAE, n=12), high-intensity aerobic exercise (HAE, n=12), and moderate-intensity resistance exercise (MRE, n=12). The patients were assessed on sleep pattern (by polysomnogram and daily sleep log) and anxiety (STAI) before and after the acute exercise.

Results: The polysomnogram data showed reduction in the sleep onset latency (SOL) (55%) and in the total wake time (TWT) (30%); increase in total sleep time (TST) (18%), and in the sleep efficiency (SE) (13%) in the MAE group. The daily sleep log data showed increase in the TST (26%) and reduction in the SOL (39%). In addition, reduction (15%) in anxiety was also observed after moderate-intensity aerobic exercise.

Conclusions: Acute moderate-intensity aerobic exercise appears to reduce pre-sleep anxiety and improve sleep in patients with chronic primary insomnia.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anxiety / complications
  • Anxiety / prevention & control
  • Chronic Disease
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Exertion
  • Polysomnography / methods
  • Polysomnography / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales / statistics & numerical data
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / complications
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / therapy*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires