Feature Archive

Sweat Yourself to Sleep

30 minutes of exercise may help you beat insomnia.

By Miriam Nelson
WebMD Feature

If you have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or are waking up often during the night, you are not alone. According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 70 million Americans experience insomnia at some point in their lives. And whether you suffer from transient or chronic insomnia, you know how frustrating it can be to struggle to fall asleep at night and feel exhausted in the morning.

Insomnia Defined

In medical circles, insomnia is considered a symptom rather than a disease. Various illnesses can cause insomnia -- as can caffeine, alcohol, smoking, depression, anxiety, stress, and arthritic pain. If you experience insomnia for a short period of time -- from two days to two weeks -- the problem is considered transient. But the NIH says that for 60% of insomnia sufferers the problem persists for three weeks or more, and in this case it's known as chronic insomnia.

Sleep Quality and Quantity

Quality sleep is essential for physical and emotional health. During childhood, sleep plays a key role in learning, memory, emotional well-being, immune function, and growth. Lack of sleep or poor quality sleep can cause fatigue, loss of energy, and memory problems. In adults, fatigue is frequently linked to car accidents and industrial accidents.