There is a lot of mixed information on the internet about whether exercising before bed is beneficial or whether it can hinder your sleep quality. The truth is, exercising before you go to sleep has both its pros and cons, and it’s all to do with how it’s done and when you do it.
As you can imagine, taking part in a high-energy HIIT workout 20 minutes before you go to bed is going to raise your heart rate. In some instances, it can even boost your adrenaline.
Exercise also increases alertness and can elevate endorphins, which can mean that you’re way too mentally and physically pumped to drift off into a peaceful night’s slumber.
However, some forms of exercise you can do in the hours leading up to bedtime have been proven to improve sleep quality. These include low-pact activities such as resistance training, yoga, stretching, or light aerobics.
During this guide, I will talk you through the best exercises to do before bed, their benefits, and how your sleep is impacted by a late-night workout. I will also give you some information about the downsides of high-intensity exercise before bed and what you should avoid keeping your sleep quality consistent and restorative.
Can Exercise Before Bed Improve Sleep Quality?
The short answer – Yes. Research has proven that exercise, in general, has a significant impact on sleep in terms of being restorative and consistent.
However, the key thing to remember is the time you work out and also that your exercise isn’t too vigorous.
Research done in recent years has shown that the best time to exercise, if you’re doing it in the evening, is around 90 minutes to two hours before you plan to bed down for the night. This way, your ability to sleep won’t be affected.
What Are The Benefits of Exercising Before Bed?
It’s a widespread belief that exercising first thing in the morning is the best option. However, in the present day, with busy work schedules, this isn’t possible for some, so if you’re someone who can only squeeze your workouts in the evening, you might be surprised to learn that there are many benefits to working out before bed, such as increased deep sleep, and improved health.
Below are all the positive effects that exercising before bed can have on your quality of life, as well as improving your sleep.
1. Stress Reduction
If stress and anxiety often keep you awake at night or cause you to have difficulty drifting off, then exercising before bed could be the answer you’re looking for. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins and lowers your blood pressure, helping you feel more physically and mentally relaxed. Exercises such as yoga, in particular, can significantly help with any stress you might be experiencing.
If you’re looking for more solutions for sleeping when stressed, this guide to the ten best calming scents for stress and anxiety might be helpful to you.
2. Improves Sleeping Pattern
Contrary to popular belief, exercising before bed will not disrupt your sleeping pattern, at least not when done correctly. The most important thing to remember is to leave an hour or two after your workout to allow time to recover and give your heart rate time to slow down and your mind time to prepare for sleep. Also, avoid exercises that are too strenuous or will raise your adrenaline.
3. Sleep Schedule
If you find that you struggle to fall asleep at night, or suffer from sleep conditions such as insomnia, then introducing light exercise to your sleep schedule and remaining consistent with it may prove to aid you in drifting off. Having a regular sleep schedule every night is vital to your sleep quality and can improve several sleep disorders.
4. Utilize Your Time
If you have a busy lifestyle or work longer hours, finding the time to exercise on your lunch break or allowing an extra hour in the morning might not be viable for you. In these instances, exercising before bed can help you better utilize the hours you have or allow you an extra hour of sleep in the morning, which we could all benefit from time-to-time.
5. Enhance Performance
Research that has taken place over the last couple of years has shown that people who exercise for their profession, such as athletes or sports players, have more stamina and strength in the evening, as opposed to the earlier hours. This could be down to the higher temperatures, which increase muscle flexibility and enhance athletic performance.
6. Mind Positivity
Working out increases feelings of positivity, which after a long, hard day at work, can be just what the doctor ordered. In turn, this can mean you go to bed with a much calmer and more relaxed mindset, improving sleep quality.
What Are The Downsides to Late Exercise Before Bed?
Of course, where there are pros, there are usually cons, which is also the case regarding evening exercise. Before introducing an activity to your evening routine, there are things to consider to ensure it’s right for you and also to ensure you’re taking the correct steps.
Some of the downsides to working out before bed include the following:
1. Inability to Remain Consistent
Working out at night can quickly become a chore, especially after a long day at the office or stressful events. This is why many people favor working out in the morning when they have a fresh mind and before their daily excursions have begun.
2. Less Variety
Some people may not enjoy working out in the evening because they’re limited in what they can do. For example, lifting heavy weights or vigorous cardio is not recommended.
Committing to workout routines in the evening can quickly become overshadowed when better offers are on the horizon, such as drinks with friends, dinner with your family, or the latest box set on Netflix. This can mean your workout gets neglected or forgotten altogether.
4. Trouble Winding Down
Picking the wrong kind of workout, or getting too carried away can result in an increased heart rate and high energy levels, which nobody wants before they try to relax and get ready for bed. Therefore, selecting exercises such as slow to moderate walking, yoga, or stretching is recommended for evening exercise sessions.
A Final Look
The be-all and end-all to this are that whether you choose to exercise before bed or in the morning, it’s going to benefit your overall health and your quality of sleep. It depends on your circumstances and lifestyle as to what works best for you.
If working out in the morning isn’t something you can fit into your busy schedule, or you simply don’t like waking up to an alarm in the early hours of the morning to head to the gym, then the good news is that exercising before bed has just as many benefits.
The most important thing to remember is that if you choose to exercise before bed, then picking the right exercises, such as low-impact aerobics or yoga, is the best option to ensure you’re not too alert to sleep.
Exercising before bed can significantly reduce stress, as well as lowering blood pressure, both of which can be beneficial, especially if you’ve encountered a stressful day.
Overall, physical activity in any form will positively impact your sleep quality, mental well-being, and general health. Especially when combined with a nutritious diet. If you’re unsure of what changes to make to your diet regarding sleep, then take a look at this informative guide to the best foods to eat for sleep.