We all know that exercising is good for our body, however, is there a right and wrong time to do it? It seems reasonable to assume that the adrenaline rush along with the increased heart rate and body temperature are sure to affect your sleep cycle if they are not given enough time to go back to normal. Popular belief supports this theory, but scientific evidence points to the contrary.
Does Exercise Affect Your Sleep
While there is anecdotal evidence that some people experience difficulty winding down after a hard workout, studies have shown that the average person does not have a harder time falling asleep after a workout than any other time.
Dr. Stuart Quan, a Harvard Medical School professor and editor-in-chief of UnderstandingSleep.org, states in a CNN report that certain people find themselves having difficult falling asleep after a vigorous workout, but the majority do not.
In his article, he states that if you are one of the few who has this problem, you should avoid working out within a few hours of bedtime.
For the rest of us, exercising at any point during the day or night actually has the opposite effect. The National Sleep Foundation conducted a “Sleep in America” poll in 2013, which showed that 83% of people who had exercised at any point that day slept better at night.
Only 3% of people said that their sleep was affected by a late-night workout routine. A vigorous training session might be just what you need for that perfect night’s sleep.
The Best Time to Exercise
So exercise can help you sleep better, but when is the ideal time to do it? Morning exercise can help boost your metabolism, but both your protein synthesis and body temperature peak in the late afternoon, giving you extra energy and strength for a harder workout. It is best to take a short walk or go to a yoga class in the morning and save your high intensity workout for later in the day.
How to Get a Better Night’s Sleep
- Performing a cool-down routine after a twilight workout instead of just running to the shower when you finish will bring your body back to normal faster. Slamming the brakes at the end of a workout routine can keep your body working harder than it needs to. By gradually cooling it down, your body functions ease back into their normal rhythms, which can ultimately help you get to sleep on time.
- Once you have completed a cool-down, hop in a nice cold shower to bring your body back down to its normal temperature. A 2-3 minute rinse should do the trick.
- Reducing daytime stress can create better nighttime rest. In our fast-paced culture, that might be easier said than done, but the effects will be well worth it. Deep breathing and meditation can create a sense of calm and help you drift off easier.
- Make your bedroom a cozy haven of relaxation. You want your body to relate your bedroom to rest, so avoid working out or doing any rigorous activity in your bedroom.
- Snoozing comes easier when you are comfortable, so create a peaceful ambience. Clear out any clutter and keep decorations simple. A soft mattress can put your body at ease. If yours leaves something to be desired, but a brand new one is not in the budget, try covering it with a mattress topper. Mattress toppers can add layers of extra cushion for the perfect night’s sleep.
- Creating a nighttime ritual can get your body ready to go to sleep. By going to bed at approximately the same time every night, your body falls into a natural rhythm. Establishing a calming bedtime routine can ease the transition between sleep and wakefulness.
- Watch what you eat. Going to bed with a full belly or one that is rumbling will prevent you from getting a good night’s rest. Nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol can also have adverse affects on your sleep cycle.
- If you have a hard time falling asleep at night, resist the temptation to make up for your lost sleep during the day. Naps can start a vicious cycle that will keep you up at night. Instead, take a walk or call a friend.
Exercising and getting enough sleep are the two most important things you can do for your overall health. Most people find that they sleep better after an enthusiastic gym session, however there are those who complain of sleep difficulties following a hard workout.
If you are in that low percentage, working out earlier in the day can help you drift off to sleep better that night. For the 97% who are not in that category, you no longer have an excuse. Comment below with any questions and tell me how you are moving your body today.