If you have trouble sleeping after heart bypass surgery, regular morning walks may provide relief, a new study suggests.
"Many patients have trouble sleeping after heart bypass surgery," said researcher Dr. Hady Atef, of Cairo University in 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," Atef said in a news release from the European Society of Cardiology.
He and his team looked at the effect of exercise on sleep and function. They studied 80 patients aged 45 to 65 who had trouble sleeping and reduced ability to function six weeks after heart bypass surgery.
Patients were randomly assigned to one of two exercise groups -- aerobic exercise or a combination of aerobic and resistance exercise.
During aerobic exercise, participants walked on a treadmill for 30 to 45 minutes. During the aerobic and resistance exercise, they walked on a treadmill for 30 to 45 minutes and also did weight training.
After 10 weeks, the researchers found that both exercise programs improved sleep and functional capacity. Aerobic exercise, however, was much more helpful in improving sleep and function than the combined program.
"Our recommendation for heart bypass patients with difficulty sleeping and performing their usual activities is to do aerobic exercise only," Atef said. "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.
"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," Atef advised.
The results of the study were presented Friday at a virtual meeting of the European Society of Cardiology. Data and conclusions presented at meetings are usually considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
For more on getting a good night's sleep, see the Sleep Foundation.