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Teens see the benefits of exercise when they're asleep -- and awake

August 17, 2009 |  2:10 pm

Adults tend to sleep better when they exercise regularly, as several studies have shown. But does the same hold true for teens?

Yes, according to a new study that compared sleep quality, daytime performance and depression levels among adolescents who exercised at high levels and teens who did lower amounts of exercise.

Kk4mqanc The study, conducted in Switzerland, included 434 adolescents; 258 took part in Swiss Olympic classes, which provide intense levels of training for high school students. They averaged about 18 hours of exercise per week. The other participants, recruited from Swiss high schools, averaged about five hours of exercise per week. Students kept a log for seven days, noting how much they exercised, how much sleep they got, the quality of that sleep, how tired they were during the day, how well they were able to concentrate, and how tired they were at bedtime.

Overall, athletes scored higher in sleep quality and mood and woke fewer times after falling asleep. They also had better daytime concentration and less fatigue. Athletes also scored lower for depressive symptoms. No substantial differences were seen in total sleep time between the two groups.

Researchers speculate that exercise could improve sleep quality because overall psychological function is better. Also, the athletes' more structured waking and sleeping pattern might contribute to better sleep, as could their knowledge of the importance of rest to athletic performance.

The study appears online in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

-- Jeannine Stein

Photo credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times