Physical Activity and Inhibitory Control: The Mediating Role of Sleep Quality and Sleep Efficiency

Lin Li, Qian Yu, Wenrui Zhao, Fabian Herold, Boris Cheval, Zhaowei Kong, Jinming Li, Notger Mueller, Arthur F. Kramer, Jie Cui, Huawei Pan, Zhuxuan Zhan, Minqiang Hui, Liye Zou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: the current study aimed to investigate the relationship between physical activity (PA) level and inhibitory control performance and then to determine whether this association was mediated by multiple sleep parameters (i.e., subjective sleep quality, sleep duration, sleep efficiency, and sleep disturbance). Methods: 180 healthy university students (age: 20.15 ± 1.92 years) from the East China Normal University were recruited for the present study. PA level, sleep parameters, and inhibitory control performance were assessed using the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ), the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index Scale (PSQI), and a Stroop test, respectively. The data were analyzed using structural equation modeling. Results: A higher level of PA was linked to better cognitive performance. Furthermore, higher subjective sleep quality and sleep efficiency were associated with better inhibitory control performance. The mediation analysis revealed that subjective sleep quality and sleep efficiency mediated the relationship between PA level and inhibitory control performance. Conclusion: our results are in accordance with the literature and buttress the idea that a healthy lifestyle that involves a relatively high level of regular PA and adequate sleep patterns is beneficial for cognition (e.g., inhibitory control performance). Furthermore, our study adds to the literature that sleep quality and sleep efficiency mediates the relationship between PA and inhibitory control performance, expanding our knowledge in the field of exercise cognition.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number664
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021


  • Inhibitory performance
  • Mediating effects
  • Physical activity
  • Sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Physical Activity and Inhibitory Control: The Mediating Role of Sleep Quality and Sleep Efficiency'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this