Does exercise help you sleep better? Operating in one of America’s fittest cities, most Portland mattress stores probably assume their customers exercise. That’s good news for product satisfaction, because a new study has shown the overwhelming effectiveness that regular exercise has on proper sleep—even in combating insomnia. Exercise has an even stronger impact than sleeping pills—a study by Northwestern Medicine has found physical activity to be the safest and most lasting combatant against sleeplessness.

Over a sixteen-week period, researchers at Northwestern Medicine divided over twenty participants with diagnosed insomnia into two groups. They trained both in proper sleep techniques but assigned an exercise regimen to one and less strenuous activities to the other. By the end of the period, not only did the active group experience an overall increase in sleep satisfaction, but they also reported strengthened vitality throughout the day. Without any prescription drugs, these participants may have been the first to conclusively show the genuine effects of exercise against insomnia.

Of course, these findings are not applicable to every person afflicted by insomnia. Even in the healthiest regions of America, many people will be unable to sleep for other, medical reasons. Like diet, a proper rest schedule, and supportive bed, exercise is simply a supplement to proper sleep, as any Oregon mattress store representative will tell you. The study by Northwestern Medicine acknowledges that aerobic physical activity is not a cure for insomnia, but because it spurs sleep faster and lengthens the amount of deep sleep, sleepless sufferers should try exercise before turning to pills.