According to a research presented on ACNAP Essentials 4 You, a scientific platform of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC), morning exercise can help those who have had difficulties in getting good night’s sleep after heart bypass surgery.
“Many patients have trouble sleeping after heart bypass surgery,” said study author Dr. Hady Atef of Cairo University, Egypt. “When this persists beyond six months it exacerbates the heart condition and puts patients at risk of having to repeat the surgery. It is therefore of utmost importance to find ways to improve sleep after bypass surgery.”
Effect of exercise on sleep after heart bypass surgery was examined earlier also many researchers, but they failed to find conclusive evidence how exercise improves functional capacity of those who just have undergone bypass surgery.
The latest study tried to find a link between exercise and sleep and functional capacity on 80 patients who belonged to different age groups. Patients aged 45 to 65 years who had sleep disorders six weeks after heart bypass surgery and also had reduced functional capacity, were enrolled for the study.
Three baseline measurements were performed.
- First, a six-minute walk test, which measures the distance patients are able to walk in six minutes on a hard, flat surface, and is a validated way to assess functional capacity.
- Second, participants completed the Pittsburgh sleep quality index (PSQI) questionnaire which asks about sleep disorders.
- Third, patients wore an actigraph watch for 96 hours to monitor rest and activity. Many of these patients have trouble staying awake during the day but have insomnia at night – the actigraph picks up both problems.
Patients were then randomly allocated to two exercise groups: aerobic exercise or a combination of aerobic and resistance exercise. Both groups did 30 exercise sessions in the morning over a 10-week period. During the aerobic exercise sessions, participants walked on a treadmill for 30 to 45 minutes. During the aerobic and resistance exercise sessions, participants walked on a treadmill for 30 to 45 minutes and did circuit weight training (a form of light resistance exercise).
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After 10 weeks, patients completed the three assessments again: the six-minute walk test, the PSQI questionnaire, and wearing the actigraph watch for 96 hours. Changes in sleep and functional capacity were compared between the two exercise groups.
The researchers found that both exercise programmes (aerobic exercise alone and combined aerobic/resistance exercise) improved sleep and functional capacity over the 10-week period. But isolated aerobic exercise was much more beneficial on sleep and function than the combined programme.
“Our recommendation for heart bypass patients with difficulty sleeping and performing their usual activities is to do aerobic exercise only,” said Dr. Atef. “We think that resistance exercise requires a high level of exertion for these patients. This may induce the release of stress hormones which negatively affect sleep.”
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“Aerobic exercise means physical activity that does not require a very high level of exertion,” he explained. “Choose an activity you enjoy like walking, cycling, or swimming. Aim for 30 to 45 minutes and do it in the morning because research shows this releases the hormone melatonin which helps us sleep well at night.”