Relative Effects of Sleep Hygiene Behavior and Physical Exercise on Sleep Quality

Austin Dopp, Utah State University


Numerous studies have shown the relationship between sleep and overall health. A common measure of sleep is sleep quality which has been shown to be influenced by a variety of factors such as physical activity, diet, stress, social engagement, cognitive stimulating, and sleep hygiene behaviors. Data was analyzed from a previous study to determine whether trying to change one’s sleep would improve sleep quality and if this was more effective than physical exercise. A group of 104 individuals, randomized to the treatment group, were asked to log their daily activities, via smartphone app, within these six behavioral domains for six months. Behavioral change scores were computed as the difference between six-month behavioral level and baseline behavioral level, for each of the six domains. Factor analysis that revealed that two latent factors explained the majority of the variance in behavioral change, with a "Physical Body Related behavior change” factor ("Physical") and a "Mental/Emotional" behavior change factor ("Mental"). In linear regression models, Physical significantly predicted sleep quality improvement over the six months (p=.029), but Mental did not (p=.606). In the middle aged adults in this study, the behavioral change pattern of increasing diet quality and physical activity, significantly predicted improvements in sleep quality. While efforts to improve one's cognitive and emotional well-being were not found to predict to sleep improvement, they still may be important for cognitive health overall. This information can prove useful as different interventions and programs are implemented to improve sleep in the population.