23/09/2010 10:22 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Can't Sleep? Get Your Heart Pumping

Ever experienced that wide-awake feeling in the middle of the night when you have an important meeting in the morning? It's not that unusual. Insomnia affects one in three adults at some time or another - with more women suffering than men - usually during times of stress.

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One in ten can't get to sleep on a regular basis. And that's no joke.

But move over addiction-forming sleeping pills, there's a new way of tackling the never-ending-counting-sheep scenario. According to researchers at the Sleep Disorders Center at Northwestern Medicine, getting regular aerobic exercise can dramatically improve your ability to sleep.

Aerobic exercise is any kind of vigorous activity that gets your heart pumping and your lungs working hard for an extended period of time. So think jogging, spinning, swimming laps, dance class - anything that gets you hot and sweaty.

In the study, just published in the journal Sleep Medicine, one group of insomniac women took part in four aerobics sessions a week. Compared to another group that did non-physical activities, such as cooking classes or lectures, the exercisers said their sleep quality improved significantly.

Not just that, they also said they felt depressed less often, had more energy in general and didn't feel so sleepy during the day any more.

A word of advice, however. If you work out at the end of the day it could make your sleep problem even worse, especially if you find it hard to wind down before bedtime. So work out in the morning or at lunchtime instead.

How has exercise improved your life? Tell us all about it.