Physical activity and time spent outdoors may be important non-pharmacological approaches to improve sleep quality and duration (or sleep patterns) but there is little empirical research evaluating the two simultaneously. The current study assesses the role of physical activity and time outdoors in predicting sleep health by using objective measurement of the three variables. A convenience sample of 360 adult women (mean age = 55.38 ±9.89 years; mean body mass index = 27.74 ±6.12) was recruited from different regions of the U.S. Participants wore a Global Positioning System device and ActiGraph GT3X+ accelerometers on the hip for 7 days and on the wrist for 7 days and 7 nights to assess total time and time of day spent outdoors, total minutes in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day, and 4 measures of sleep health, respectively. A generalized mixed-effects model was used to assess temporal associations between moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, outdoor time, and sleep at the daily level (days = 1931) within individuals. There was a significant interaction (p = 0.04) between moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and time spent outdoors in predicting total sleep time but not for predicting sleep efficiency. Increasing time outdoors in the afternoon (versus morning) predicted lower sleep efficiency, but had no effect on total sleep time. Time spent outdoors and the time of day spent outdoors may be important moderators in assessing the relation between physical activity and sleep. More research is needed in larger populations using experimental designs.
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© 2017 Murray et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.