Does increasing daily physical activity benefit sleep?

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1. Summary

Current recommendations state children should accumulate 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity (MVPA) per day and obtain a total sleep time of 9–11 h per night. Not meeting both of these recommendations is associated with increased cardiometabolic risk and developing obesity. Given the public health importance of sufficient physical activity and sleep, a greater understanding of the association and directionality of this relationship is needed for designing interventions to improve these behaviours. For example, does increasing daily physical activity benefit sleep, and/or does improving sleep duration enhance daily physical activity levels? Observational studies that have previously examined the relationships between children’s physical activity and sleep are equivocal. Therefore, the objective of this study was to examine the temporal and bidirectional associations between objectively-measured physical activity (of different intensities) and sleep in children. The sample included 65 children, 31 boys and 34 girls aged 8-11 years were recruited from Melbourne, Australia. All data were collected using the SenseWear Pro Armband which have previously been validated against gold standard measures of both physical activity and sleep. Outcome measures were collected for 8 days and included time spent in light-intensity physical activity and MVPA, time in bed, total sleep time and sleep efficiency. Our results indicate that the total daily volume of LPA and MVPA undertaken on one day was not associated with sleep outcomes. Similarly, nocturnal time in bed, total sleep time and sleep efficiency were not associated with the total volume of LPA or MVPA carried out the following day. This study is one of the first to examine the temporal and bidirectional relationships between physical activity and sleep outcomes in children. Future studies should determine whether such associations are consistent for weekdays and weekend days given the variability in waking and sleeping times across these periods.





3. Do you have any ideas to expand upon this research? Are you looking for collaborators?

Other research has suggested that alternative sleep-related domains such as regularity of a child’s sleep schedule and sleep timing may be more strongly related to children’s physicalactivity the following day than total sleep time. We are interested in focusing on measures of sleep quality, the regularity of sleep patterns and sleep timing (as opposed to total sleep time) across the weight continuum in children and how these impact next day physical activity.

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Category: ASA Research Peer Prize

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