Sleep and physical activity – the dynamics of bi-directional influences over a fortnight

Anu Katriina Pesonen*, Michal Kahn, Liisa Kuula, Topi Korhonen, Leena Leinonen, Kaisu Martinmäki, Michael Gradisar, Jari Lipsanen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Study objectives: The day-to-next day predictions between physical activity (PA) and sleep are not well known, although they are crucial for advancing public health by delivering valid sleep and physical activity recommendations. We used Big Data to examine cross-lagged time-series of sleep and PA over 14 days and nights. Methods: Bi-directional cross-lagged autoregressive pathways over 153,154 days and nights from 12,638 Polar watch users aged 18–60 years (M = 40.1 SD = 10.1; 44.5% female) were analyzed with cross-lagged panel data modeling (RI-CPL). We tested the effects of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) vs. high intensity PA (vigorous, VPA) on sleep duration and quality, and vice versa. Results: Within-subject results showed that more minutes spent in VPA the previous day was associated with shorter sleep duration the next night, whereas no effect was observed for MVPA. Longer sleep duration the previous night was associated with less MVPA but more VPA the next day. Neither MVPA nor VPA were associated with subsequent night’s sleep quality, but better quality of sleep predicted more MVPA and VPA the next day. Conclusions: Sleep duration and PA are bi-directionally linked, but only for vigorous physical activity. More time spent in VPA shortens sleep the next night, yet longer sleep duration increases VPA the next day. The results imply that a 24-h framing for the interrelations of sleep and physical activity is not sufficient – the dynamics can even extend beyond, and are activated specifically for the links between sleep duration and vigorous activity. The results challenge the view that sleep quality can be improved by increasing the amount of PA. Yet, better sleep quality can result in more PA the next day.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1160
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
Opetus- ja Kulttuuriministeriö


    • Big-data
    • Cross-lagged
    • Physical activity
    • Sleep duration
    • Sleep quality
    • Time-series


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