Objective: To evaluate the dose-response effect of aerobic exercise on sleep duration, sleep efficiency and sleep quality in previously sedentary, moderately overweight men.
Methods: In a randomized, controlled trial, 53 sedentary Caucasian men aged between 20 and 40 years (VO2- max25%) completed a 13-week aerobic exercise intervention consisting of either a physical activity energy deficit of 600 kcal day-1 (HIGH: n=18), 300 kcal day-1 (MOD: n=18), or being sedentary (CON: n=17). The endpoints were sleep duration (objectively measured by actigraphy over 3 days), sleep efficiency (3-day actigraphy), and subjectively rated sleep quality (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index).
Results: Because of missing sleep data, a total of 32 subjects were included in the present analysis (CON:n=12, MOD: n=12, HIGH: n=8). A significant increase in sleep duration was observed in HIGH (80 ± 30 min, p=0.03). However, the change was not significantly different from the change in CON. Sleep efficiency tended to decrease in HIGH (p=0.05), and there was a tendency towards an improved sleep quality within MOD and HIGH (p=0.08 in both).
Conclusion: Our study suggests that a high daily dose of aerobic exercise for 13 weeks increases sleep duration, tends to decrease sleep efficiency, and tends to improve subjective sleep quality in sedentary, moderately overweight men. Because our sample included relatively young and sleep-efficient individuals, future studies should examine the dose-response effects of aerobic exercise on sleep parameters in older adults with sleeping problems.