Newsletter Article

Does More Activity Equal Better Sleep?

August 2016

Getting a good night’s sleep can help us be more active during the day, and being more active during the day can help us get a better night’s sleep. Rather than focusing on just waking or sleeping periods, researchers are increasingly looking at the 24-hour activity-rest cycle to gain a better understanding of how different factors affect our entire day.

Self reported sleep behavior tends to be very unreliable, particularly when it comes to total sleep time and sleep efficiency. A recent study used actigraphy to compare objectively captured, validated sleep times versus self-reported sleep times.[1] The average self-reported sleep duration was 7.85 hours per night, while the average actigraphy sleep duration was 6.74 hours per night. For each additional hour of self-reported sleep time, actigraphy sleep time only increased by 20 minutes. This demonstrates how people are not a reliable source when it comes to estimating sleep time, and therefore objective measurements should be used in place of self-reported times whenever possible.

In another study, subjects with insomnia underwent an intervention program that consisted of at least 30 min of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity performed at least 5 days each week.[2] After six months of the intervention program, subjects had significant improvements in their insomnia severity index and depression scores compared to the control group.

Sleep apnea is a serious and very common sleep disorder that is characterized by pauses in breathing or shallow breathing during sleep periods.[3] A recent study compared the occurrences and severity of sleep apnea with the walkability scores of different neighborhoods.[4] Researchers found that people living in neighborhoods with high scoring walkable environments were more physically active compared to those who lived in the low scoring neighborhoods. They found an association between these low scoring neighborhoods and sleep apnea severity, particularly in men and obese individuals. This study demonstrates how our environment can affect how active we are, which in turn can affect how well we sleep.

These studies show how increased physical activity can help decrease the chances of developing different types of sleep disorders. Objective monitoring of an individual’s sleep patterns and efficiency can help detect changes in these different disorders.


Native to Indonesia and southern India, turmeric is made from the root of the Curcuma longa plant and has been harvested for over 5,000 years.[5] Turmeric has a fragrance similar to orange and ginger with a flavor that can be described as peppery and bitter. This is the spice that is responsible for the bright yellow color of ballpark mustard.

The orange or yellow pigment in turmeric is known as curcumin. Curcumin is the compound in turmeric that is often linked to its anti-inflammatory properties, which are comparable to common drugs such as hydrocortisone, phenylbutazone, or Motrin. However, unlike some pharmaceutical products, there is no toxicity associated with curcumin.

Turmeric may also be helpful in preventing and treating Alzheimer’s disease. In healthy patients, macrophages are able to help clear amyloid plaque that accumulates in the brain, but Alzheimer’s patients have suppressed activity of these macrophages. Curcumin can cross the blood-brain barrier, and research has demonstrated the addition of curcumin in Alzheimer’s patients brought macrophage activity to normal levels.

Another potential medical use for turmeric is for the improvement of a variety of dermatological diseases, which is attributed to its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties.[6] Studies have found that turmeric reduced the severity of numerous skin conditions, including acne, alopecia, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, and vitiligo, among others. Both oral and topical products showed improved skin health, but more research is needed.

With its powerful anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric is associated with a variety of health benefits. Incorporating this flavorful spice into your regular diet can lead to tastier food and a healthier you!

Orange Turmeric Smoothie

8 ounces cold, organic coconut water
3 oranges, peeled
2 mangoes, peeled and cubed
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced finely

Add the coconut water, oranges, mangoes, turmeric powder and ginger to the blender. Starting the blender on a low speed, gradually increase to higher speeds and blend until smooth. Serves 3.

Recipe from

Elevation masks

Training at high altitude and sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber are both methods that elite athletes use to increase their aerobic capacity. These may not be realistic options for those of us who are simply interested in improving fitness levels without making a large investment in travel or equipment. An alternative that’s growing in popularity is the elevation mask. These masks are used to restrict airflow and can be adjusted to different intensities.

When researchers compared the results of a group that underwent a running protocol while using a mask and also while not using a mask, they found no significant differences in heart rate, blood pressure, blood oxygen concentration, or RPE between the training types.[7] This suggests that the mask is not causing enough physiological changes to elicit improvements in fitness. However, this study only used two workouts per subject, which may not have been a large enough sampling. Another study used a 6 week high intensity program, where subjects were split into a mask or no mask group.[8] While both groups improved VO2max and Peak Power Output, they were not significantly different from each other. The mask group did have significant improvements in Ventilatory Threshold and Power Output.

These finding suggest that an elevation training mask may improve fitness levels, but this may not be the result of altitude simulation, but rather by acting as a respiratory muscle training device.

Health Matters is written by Lindsey Guthrie, MS, RD, LD/N and Tyler Guthrie, MS, CSCS.


  1. Cespedes EM, Hu FB, Redline S, et al. Comparison of Self-Reported Sleep Duration With Actigraphy: Results From the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos Sueño Ancillary Study. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2016; 183(6): 561.
  2. Iftikhar IH, Albisher E, Challapallisri V, Paul G. Physical Activity and Insomnia, Short Sleep and Insulin Resistance, and Effect of Poor Sleep on Children’s Academic Performance.” American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. 2016.
  3. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. What is Sleep Apnea?
  4. Billings ME, Johnson D, Simonelli G, et al. Neighborhood Walking Environment and Activity Level Are Associated with Obstructive Sleep Apnea: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. CHEST Journal. 2016.
  5. Engel FA, Holmberg HC, Sperlich B. Is There Evidence that Runners can Benefit from Wearing Compression Clothing? Sports Medicine. 2016: 1.
  6. The George Mateljan Foundation. Turmeric.
  7. Vaughn AR, Branum A, Sivamani RK. Effects of Turmeric (Curcuma longa) on Skin Health: A Systematic Review of the Clinical Evidence. Phytotherapy Research.2016; 30(8): 1243.
  8. Maspero M, Smith JD. Effect of an Acute Bout of Exercise using an Altitude Training Mask Simulating 12,000 ft on Physiological and Perceptual Variables. International Journal of Exercise Science: Conference Proceedings. 2016; 2(8).
  9. Porcari JP, Probst L, Forrester K, et al. Effect of Wearing the Elevation Training Mask on Aerobic Capacity, Lung Function, and Hematological Variables. Journal of Sports Science & Medicine. 2016; 15(2): 379.

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