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Your Health: How exercise affects your sleep

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You've probably heard before that exercise is good for sleep. There's no question it's true...but a new study takes a closer look at the relationship between the two, including how soon your sleep will improve once you start exercising.

Getting a good night's rest is something doctors always recommend.  There are many health benefits to sleep - but some people have problems dozing off.  One of the solutions to this problem - could be exercise.

Researchers at Northwestern University monitored a small number of patients over a 16 week period to determine the effects of exercise on sleep. they found that, in fact, those who exercised more, slept better at night.

"They all had a shorter time to fall asleep. They had more sleep per night. An average of about 45 minutes a person, although in some people it was as much as an hour and a half," said Dr. Gary Goza of the St. Vincent Sleep Center.

The study also determined that sleep affected exercise - in the same way.

"The next day if they slept better, they were more likely to exercise longer. So actually, the better their sleep was, the more they exercised."

Doctor Gary Goza is the medical director at the St. Vincent Sleep Center. What he took away most from this research is that patients shouldn't expect to see a change in sleeping patterns immediately. You will see the benefit, but it will develop gradually.

Dr. Goza says, "Don't expect if you exercise today that you'll sleep better tonight, but if you stay with the exercise program over time...weeks... Your sleep will improve. More sleep and you'll get to sleep faster."