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Exercise May Help Improve Quality of Deep Sleep

Slow-wave sleep is the deepest phase of non-rapid eye movement sleep and is the phase of sleep when muscles repair and grow and memory processing takes place. A new study suggests that exercise may help enhance the quality of slow-wave sleep, although those changes may not be perceptible to individuals.

Participants included healthy men with an average age of 23.8. They performed one hour of vigorous exercise in the evening. The researchers measured sleep quality the night of the exercise test using polysomnography, which records brain waves, blood oxygen levels, heart rate, breathing, and eye and leg movements. They also measured slow-wave stability. In addition, participants self-assessed their quality of sleep.

Participants self-reported no change in the quality of their sleep. However, the researchers found that exercise reduced the amount of time spent in slow-wave sleep but increased the power of delta waves during slow-wave sleep and the stability of slow-wave sleep. Delta waves are slow, low-frequency brain waves that are the dominant brainwave pattern in slow-wave sleep.

The study was conducted by researchers from the International Institute for Integrative Sleep Medicine. It was published online ahead of print on February 24, 2021 in Scientific Reports.

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