Strength training keeps you fit and is good for your health, but if you train a lot, you also need to sleep well to regenerate! Sports and health expert Prof. dr Geisler shows us current studies on the effect of strength training on sleep and explains whether regular training contributes to better sleep.
Table of Contents
- Sport & Sleep
- The effect of strength training on sleep quality
- Can strength training improve sleep?
1. Exercise & Sleep
If you train a lot and hard, you also have to get enough sleep and regenerate! Good sleep is particularly important in weight training to support muscle growth and to replenish energy stores after strenuous training sessions. You can find out more about this in this article. A good night's sleep supports our training performance, but how does regular strength training affect our sleep patterns and sleep quality in turn?
Prof. dr Stephan Geisler is the smartsleep expert for fitness and health. He gives us an overview of the current study situation and explains what influence strength training can have on sleep quality.
2. Effects of strength training on sleep quality
To answer the question of whether strength training has an impact on sleep, we need to familiarize ourselves with the current body of research. To this end, we can take a look at three investigations that offer different perspectives (Bennie & Tittlbach, 2020; Kovacevic et al. , 2018; Santiago et al. , 2022).
The first study examined the effects of 12 weeks of resistance training on sleep quality, sleep duration, and daytime sleepiness in healthy adolescents (Santiago et al. , 2022). Training was performed three times a week in a rep range of 10-12 reps, completed in three sets of each exercise. The strength training was based on eight exercises to target the entire body in each workout (leg extensions, hamstrings, calf raises, leg presses, bench presses, bicep curls, tricep extensions, and lat pulldowns). The results show that the general sleep quality of the subjects had improved significantly after 12 weeks and that there was also a trend towards less daytime sleepiness. A control group that did not exercise, however, could not improve their sleep quality and daytime sleepiness. The fact that strength training has a positive effect on sleep was not only evident in this study.
The work of Bennie & Tittlbach analyzed the data from the online questionnaires or paper questionnaires from the "Gesundheit in Deutschland aktuell" project from 2014. To do this, the researchers had access to the data of 23,635 people who were over 18 years old. The researchers looked at data from over 23,000 people over the age of 18 and checked whether those who did some form of strength training had better sleep quality. And indeed, the analysis showed that people who did strength training tended to have better sleep quality - completely independent of sociodemographic/lifestyle-related factors (e.g. B gender, age, socioeconomic position, alcohol, smoking, BMI and chronic diseases) and endurance training.
The last paper I would like to present, in 2018, examined all previously published studies looking at the effect of acute resistance training (ie. H fewer than four workouts) and chronic strength training (ie. H more than four training units) on sleep duration and sleep quality in people of all ages, genders and health conditions (from healthy to sick). However, the study could not find any direct positive or negative influence of strength training on the duration of sleep, and the results on the development of sleep quality were also somewhat inconsistent. Two out of three studies showed that acute strength training improved sleep quality. An improvement in subjective sleep quality could be observed across several studies in people who engaged in chronic strength training, while sleep duration was only affected to a limited extent. However, there are few well-controlled studies that have examined the effects of resistance training on sleep duration and sleep quality.
3. Can strength training improve sleep?
Yes, strength training can have a positive influence on the quality of sleep! This is shown by the three papers presented, which, due to their different approaches, show different perspectives of the current study situation. The positive effects on sleep could be primarily due to the effect of training on energy metabolism. There have already been some studies by Dr. Markus Dworak, in which it was shown that intense physical exertion increases the proportion of deep sleep and that this effect is probably caused by the molecule adenosine.
And the duration of sleep could also be improved through regular training sessions, but the current study situation is still very thin. In addition, there are no studies examining the impact of strength training on sleep quality in young and healthy adults. So it remains exciting to see what knowledge we will gain in the future about the connection between strength training and our sleep.
Regular strength training can have a positive effect on the quality of sleep and improve the subjective feeling of relaxation.
In some studies, regular strength training could help increase sleep duration.
Greetings and see you soon!
Bennie, J. A , & Tittlbach, S. (2020). Muscle-strengthening exercise and sleep quality among a nationally representative sample of 23,635 German adults. Preventive medicine reports, 20, 101250. https://doi. org/10. 1016/j. pmedr. 2020 101250
Kovacevic, A. , Mavros, Y. , Heisz, J. J , & Fiatarone Singh, M. A (2018). The effect of resistance exercise on sleep: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Sleep medicine reviews, 39, 52-68. https://doi. org/10. 1016/j. smrv. 2017. 07. 002
Santiago, L. , Lyra, M J , Germano-Soares, A. H , Lins-Filho, O. L , Queiroz, D. R , Prazeres, T. , Mello, M. T , Pedrosa, R. P , Falcao, A. , & Santos, M. (2022). Effects of Strength Training on Sleep Parameters of Adolescents: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 36(5), 1222-1227. https://doi. org/10. 1519/JSC. 0000000000003629