Play and Sleep Like A Dog

Dogs take sleep seriously

Every year, the National Sleep Foundation surveys adults between 23 and 60 years old to learn about sleep habits and sleep impact in the United States. This year’s National Sleep Foundation 2013 poll found that the average person sleeps 7 hours per night. Unfortunately, many people have trouble getting to sleep, staying asleep, and waking feeling refreshed. In Fit As Fido, we encourage you to follow your dog’s habits to a healthier life, including playing and sleeping “like a dog.” Dogs take sleep seriously–they like to play hard and sleep hard. Go to the dog park and you’re sure to see an owner watching his dog chasing around some buddies before remarking, “Duke’s sure gonna sleep great tonight!”

The truth is–we’re not that different from our dogs. Just like dog owners at the park know exercise leads to good sleep in their dogs, the National Sleep Foundation 2013 poll found important links between exercise and healthy sleeping in humans. And just like our four-legged counterparts, people who exercised more vigorously during the day were more likely to enjoy a good night’s sleep:

  • Sleep was classified as “fairly good” for about 60 percent of people who exercised compared with only 40 percent of people who didn’t exercise.
  • Sleep was classified as “very good” for 25 percent of those doing vigorous exercise (such as running, cycling, or swimming), for 20 percent doing moderate (such as yoga, Tai Chi, and weight lifting), and only 15 percent doing light exercise (such as walking) or no exercise.
  • Two-thirds of people getting vigorous exercise reported getting as much sleep as they felt they needed, compared with half of those doing moderate or light exercise and only one-third of those not exercising.
  • Half of those not exercising reported waking up during the night compared with 44 percent doing light exercise, 40 percent doing moderate exercise, and 33 percent doing vigorous exercise.
  • Waking without feeling refreshed was reported by 43 percent of non-exercises, 26 percent of light exercisers, 20 percent with moderate exercise, and only 17 percent with vigorous exercise.
  • Half of those who exercise reported their sleep was better on days when they had exercised, with better sleep improving over 60 percent on days when vigorous exercise was performed.

Exercise improved sleep whether it was done a few hours before bedtime or much earlier in the day.

So take a lesson from Fido. If you want a good night sleep, add exercise to your day. Walking Fido, tossing the ball or Frisbee, enjoying a good game of chase in the yard, or going for a swim together can be just what the doctor ordered for a better night’s sleep. Always check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.

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