Poor sleep leads to a lot of health issues. If you’re having poor sleep you can offset the negative health impacts by exercising. Yes, recent research says that staying active and doing enough exercise can balance the health harms of poor sleep. 

Sleep deprivation or poor sleep can affect your mental and physical health. Nearly one out of 3 people suffer from poor sleep. Long-term poor sleep not only drains your mental abilities but also puts your physical health at risk. A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine says physical activity can reduce the health hazards caused by poor sleep. The study says poor health hazards can cause unhealthy sleep patterns such as :

  • Not sleeping long enough
  • Sleeping for so long 
  • Snoring
  • Insomnia 
  • Late chronotype 

And the research also says poor sleep may cause 

  • Inflammation 
  • Blood sugar 
  • Obesity 
  • Heart diseases 
  • Premature death 

The study analyzed the information provided by 3,80,055 middle-aged adults in the UK Biobank between 2006 and 2010. The participants provided information on their weekly physical activity levels and five aspects of sleep. Their physical activity levels were measured in Metabolic Equivalent of Task (MET) minutes. The participants were grouped according to their sleep behavior into poor, intermediate, or healthy and also by using a sleep score. The sleep score was derived from chronotype, sleep duration, insomnia, snoring, and daytime sleepiness. For healthy sleep, the score is given as 4+,  for intermediate 2-4, and poor 0-1. The participants’ level of physical activity was categorized based on World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. High physical activity i.e 1200 0r more MET minutes/week is categorized as high; 600 to less than 1200 as medium and 1 to less than 600 as low.  

At the end of the study, out of 15,503 participants, 4,095 died from heart disease and 9,604 died from cancer. The researchers found out that compared to healthy sleepers, people with poor sleep had the highest risk of dying from cancer or heart disease. Poor sleepers had a 23% higher risk of premature death, a 39% higher risk of dying of heart disease, and a 13% higher risk of dying from cancer. The study also found that participants who had the risk of dying from cancer or heart disease during the period were those who didn’t follow WHO-recommended guidelines for workouts. i.e 150 minutes or moderate intensive workout or 75 minutes of vigorously intense physical activity for at least a week. But on the other hand participants with poor sleep but did enough exercise to meet the WHO guidelines had a low risk of dying from heart disease and cancer compared to those who didn’t meet the WHO physical activity guidelines. 

The researchers say for now it’s unclear why and how exercising balances the poor impacts of sleep but the findings establish the efforts to target both physical activities and sleep quality to improve health.