Introduction: Habitual sleep duration is associated with cardiometabolic disease risk and poor mental health. Exercise has been shown to improve cardiometabolic disease risk and mental health. Further, insufficient/excessive sleep is associated with sedentary behavior. It is plausible that benefits of exercise may mitigate some negative effects of insufficient or excessive sleep.
Methods: Data from the 2013 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a phone-based survey conducted by the CDC, was used. All participants were asked to report habitual 24-hour sleep, which was recorded as whole numbers and categorized as Very Short (≤4h), Short (5-6h), Normal (7-8h, reference), and Long (≥9h). Participants reported their primary source of physical activity. For this analysis, the following groups were included: None (N=125314), Walking (N=179,996), Running (N=23,153), Gardening (N=26,637), and Yoga/Pilates (N=3370). Outcomes of interest were obesity, depressed mood, and history of hypertension and diabetes. Population-weighted binary logistic regression models evaluated relationships between sleep duration and these outcomes, stratified by activity group. Covariates included age, sex, race/ethnicity, and education.
Results: See Table 1. Relationships between sleep duration and health outcomes differed by activity group. Associations with very short sleep were generally maintained across groups. However, relationships with short sleep were somewhat mitigated in running and yoga, and relationships with long sleep were seen less in running and gardening.
Conclusions: The relationship between sleep duration and health may be modified by activity. It is possible that activities such as running and yoga may mitigate some of the negative health effects of insufficient or excessive sleep, as long as sleep duration is not extremely short. Also the obesity relationship was particularly unaffected by exercise.