Sleep disturbance is highly prevalent among shift-working nurses. We aimed to evaluate whether aerobic exercise (i.e., walking combined with jogging) improves objective sleep parameters among female nurses who met eligibility criterion as poor sleepers at the end of an 8-week exercise program and 4 weeks after study completion. This single-blinded, parallel-design, randomized controlled trial was conducted in a classroom of a hospital in northern Taiwan. Sixty eligible female nurses were randomly assigned to either the aerobic exercise (n = 30) or usual activity status (n = 30) group. A moderate-intensity aerobic exercise program was administered over 5 days (60 min per day) a week for 8 weeks after the nurses' day shifts. Objective sleep outcomes including total sleep time (TST), sleep onset latency (SOL), wake after sleep onset (WASO), and sleep efficiency (SE) were retrieved using an actigraph device. A generalized estimating equation model was used for data analysis. The aerobic exercise group exhibited improvements in TST and SE at 4 and 8 weeks compared with the baseline evaluation (TST: B = 70.49 and 55.96; SE: B = 5.21 and 3.98). Between-group differences were observed in SOL and WASO at 4 weeks but not 8 weeks compared with the baseline evaluation (SOL: B = −7.18; WASO: B = −11.38). Positive lasting effects for TST were observed only until the 4-week follow-up. To improve sleep quality and quantity, we encourage female nurses who sleep poorly to regularly perform moderate-intensity aerobic exercise.
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