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(NBC NEWS) -- The path to a good night's sleep may seem counter-intuitive.

You may need to hit the gym before you hit the sheets.

A new poll from the National Sleep Foundation shows those who exercise the most get the best sleep.

The poll of a thousand adults found regular exercisers slept better and felt more refreshed in the morning than people who did not exercise.

The reason for the link between physical activity and a good night's sleep is not clear, but depression and anxiety tend to be common in people who suffer from insomnia.

"We know that exercise can improve depression. We know that exercise can improve anxiety," notes the Cleveland Clinic's Dr. Harneet Walia.

Vigorous exercise, any time of day, seemed to help most but it doesn't take heavy lifting to benefit.

"When you can, get up and take a walk, stretch some, it doesn't even have to be vigorous exercise. Even light exercise can help improve the likelihood that you'll get a good night's sleep," advises National Sleep Foundation chairman Dr. Russell Rosenberg.

Taking a walk, swimming, hula hooping...anything that gets your body moving can help keep you still at night.

Spending less time sitting may also help.

Those who sat no more than eight hours a day had better sleep quality than more sedentary people.

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