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. Sport & Sleep
If you train a lot and hard, you also need to get enough sleep and regeneration! A good night's sleep is particularly important in weight training to support muscle growth and replenish energy stores after strenuous training sessions. You can find out more about this in this article. A good sleep supports our training performance, but how does regular strength training conversely affect our sleep behavior and sleep quality?
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
In order to answer the question of whether strength training has an influence on sleep, we need to familiarize ourselves with the current studies. To this end, we can take a look at three studies that offer different perspectives (Bennie & Tittlbach, 2020; Kovacevic et al., 2018; Santiago et al., 2022).
The first work examined the effects of 12 weeks of strength training on sleep quality, sleep duration and daytime sleepiness in healthy adolescents (Santiago et al., 2022). Training was performed three times per week in a rep range of 10-12 repetitions, completed in three sets per exercise. Strength training was based on eight exercises to target the entire body in each training session (leg extensions, leg curls, calf raises, leg presses, bench presses, bicep curls, triceps extensions, and lat pulldowns). The results show that the general sleep quality of the test subjects had improved significantly after 12 weeks and that daytime sleepiness also tended to be less. However, a control group that did not exercise was unable to improve their sleep quality or daytime sleepiness. The fact that strength training has a positive effect on sleep was not only clear in this study.
The work of Bennie & Tittlbach analyzed the data from the online questionnaires or paper questionnaires from the “Health in Germany Current” project from 2014. To do this, the researchers had access to data from 23,635 people who were over 18 years old. The researchers examined data from over 23,000 people over the age of 18 and tested whether those who did some form of strength training had better sleep quality. And the analysis actually showed that people who did strength training tended to have better sleep quality - regardless of socio-demographic/lifestyle-related factors (e.g. b gender, age, socioeconomic position, alcohol, smoking, BMI and chronic diseases) and endurance training.
The last work I would like to present examined in 2018 all studies published up to that point that dealt with the effects of acute strength training (i.e. H less than four training sessions) and chronic strength training (i.e. H more than four training sessions) on sleep duration and sleep quality in people of all ages, genders and health conditions (from healthy to sick). However, the study could not determine any direct positive or negative influence of strength training on sleep duration and the results on the development of sleep quality were also somewhat inconsistent. In two of three studies, acute strength training showed improved sleep quality. In people who did chronic strength training, an improvement in subjective sleep quality was observed across several studies, while sleep duration was only influenced 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 sleep quality! This is shown by the three works presented, which, due to their different approaches, show different perspectives on the current study situation. The positive effects on sleep could arise primarily from the effect of training on energy metabolism. There have already been some studies on this 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 sleep duration could also be improved through regular training sessions, although the current study situation is still very thin. Furthermore, there is a lack of studies that have examined the influence 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 sleep quality and improve the subjective feeling of recovery.
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