For the full benefits of a workout, research suggests that the first step is getting a good night’s sleep.

A new long-term study has found that sleep deprivation may lead to decreased benefits from exercise in terms of cognition. The results of this study were published in The Lancet in July.

It’s no secret that exercise is linked to overall healthiness and improved quality of life.

Such measures have also been found to reduce weight and combat obesity, a raging problem linked to various negative health outcomes.

Sleep is also an important component of overall health.

Officials from the Centers for Disease Control had previously determined that nearly 40% of north Texans were not getting enough sleep before the ending of daylight savings time in 2022, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

Researchers have found that these two may have a causal link.

Scientists in this latest study gathered data from 8,958 people over the age of 50 from January 1, 2008, to July 31, 2019. Each of the participants was deemed to be “cognitively healthy.”

These subjects were surveyed on their level of physical activity as well as their sleep schedules, with follow-up interviews every two years.

The researchers found that decreased physical activity and decreased sleep were associated with decreased cognitive performance and increased decline.

Yet a major takeaway was that “those with higher physical activity and short sleep had faster rates of cognitive decline than those with higher physical activity and optimal sleep,” according to the study.

Participants with higher physical activity and between six to eight hours of sleep were logged as having slower cognitive decay over the course of the decade compared to those who averaged less than six hours of sleep.

Dr. Mikaela Bloomberg, lead author, told Neuroscience News that the findings indicate a need to consider sleeping and physical activity patterns when judging cognitive ability.

“Previous studies examining how sleep and physical activity might combine to affect cognitive function have primarily been cross-sectional — only focusing on a snapshot in time — and we were surprised that regular physical activity may not always be sufficient to counter the long-term effects of lack of sleep on cognitive health,” said Bloomberg, according to Neuroscience News.

The research team hopes that, based on this study, medical practitioners consider sleeping patterns alongside physical activity levels to maximize the full benefit of exercise.

“It is important to identify the factors that can protect cognitive function in middle and later life as they can serve to prolong our cognitively healthy years and, for some people, delay a dementia diagnosis,” said Andrew Steptoe, co-author, per Neuroscience News.