The effect of resistance exercise on sleep: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials

Sleep Med Rev. 2018 Jun;39:52-68. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2017.07.002. Epub 2017 Jul 19.


Impaired sleep quality and quantity are associated with future morbidity and mortality. Exercise may be an effective non-pharmacological intervention to improve sleep, however, little is known on the effect of resistance exercise. Thus, we performed a systematic review of the literature to determine the acute and chronic effects of resistance exercise on sleep quantity and quality. Thirteen studies were included. Chronic resistance exercise improves all aspects of sleep, with the greatest benefit for sleep quality. These benefits of isolated resistance exercise are attenuated when resistance exercise is combined with aerobic exercise and compared to aerobic exercise alone. However, the acute effects of resistance exercise on sleep remain poorly studied and inconsistent. In addition to the sleep benefits, resistance exercise training improves anxiety and depression. These results suggest that resistance exercise may be an effective intervention to improve sleep quality. Further research is needed to better understand the effects of acute resistance exercise on sleep, the physiological mechanisms underlying changes in sleep, the changes in sleep architecture with chronic resistance exercise, as well its efficacy in clinical cohorts who commonly experience sleep disturbance. Future studies should also examine time-of-day and dose-response effects to determine the optimal exercise prescription for sleep benefits.

Keywords: Resistance exercise; Resistance training; Review; Sleep.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Quality of Life
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic*
  • Resistance Training / methods*
  • Sleep / physiology*