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Regular exercise, such as walking, running, and resistance exercise, can improve sleep. But if those don’t appeal to you, tai chi is another option to improve sleep.
An international team of researchers compared the effects on sleep of conventional exercise, tai chi, or no exercise in a group of 320 older adults with insomnia. As well as monitoring subjective data, researchers tracked sleep patterns using wrist-worn devices.
The exercise and tai chi programs consisted of three one-hour classes per week for 12 weeks. Compared to participants who did not exercise, those who did conventional exercise or tai chi fell asleep more easily, woke up fewer times during the night, spent less time awake while in bed, and relied less on sleeping pills.
At the end of the study and at follow-up checks two years later, those who practiced tai chi were more likely to no longer suffer from insomnia than those who did conventional exercise.
Other research that covered a total of nearly 1,000 people found that tai chi can improve sleep for adults of all ages—including those who are healthy and those who suffer from chronic health conditions. In these studies, tai chi was practiced between 1.5 and 3 hours per week for 6–24 weeks.