Health

Can we exercise before sleep?

Are you the type of person that enjoys a night run around the neighbourhood or a Pilates session with your favourite late-night television show? Have you ever wondered whether working out before bed could affect your sleep quality or not?

Will exercising before bed worsen your sleep quality?

This is yet another long-standing myth surrounding exercise and sleep. Exercising, in fact, is a great way to assist with the body’s metabolism and would normally improve your sleep quality

However, vigorous exercises before bed should be avoided. This would boost your adrenaline and make it difficult for you to wind down, according to Harvard Professor Dr. Stuart Quan. Adrenaline speeds up the heart rate and makes the brain particularly active. So, always leave at least two hours between your exercise and bedtime to achieve both your fitness goal, and a good night’s sleep. 

On the other hand, some research finds exercising in the late afternoon and evening more effective than doing it in the morning. This is often associated with the rise in body temperature between 4-6PM – setting up a conducive workout mood. A good number of people even see working out as a pick-me-up after their 9-5 jobs.  

So, how do you find out which one you are?

S(l)ee(p) for yourself 

That's right - SEE for yourself. Not everyone's sleep can be worsened by exercise. A study has even shown no significant difference in subjective sleep quality after exercising right before bed. 

The best way to find out whether it affects you or not is to have a trial night. After all, the perfect workout time depends on the person. 

What kind of exercise should you do before bed?

Light cardio exercise instead of heavy muscle-building sessions to keep your adrenaline at a steady level. 

Yoga and walking can improve flexibility and core strength without dramatically increasing your heart rate. 

For some toning, push-ups, lunges, and planks can do the job without too much sweat. 

Steer clear of vigorous exercises such as weight-lifting, running, and boxing two hours before bedtime. 

How to get ready for bed after exercising?

Cool down by taking a shower. The rapid decline in body temperature after showering serves as a natural sleep inducer. Some relaxing music and aromatherapy essential oils are a sweet bonus. Remember to wait 20 minutes after your workout before jumping into the shower. 

Meditate or do deep-breathing exercises to slow down your heart rate and lower the adrenaline level. 

If you’re feeling hungry, have some light snacks like a piece of fruit or low-fat yogurt to satisfy your craving. DO NOT have a large meal before bed though – your body won’t be able to digest it properly. (READ: How long before bed should I stop eating?)

Consistency is always key

It’s possible to work out any time of the day and not have it affect your sleep at all. Ultimately, if you’ve got regular sleeping habits, a little pumping up shouldn’t do you any bad. So, the best time to workout is whenever you’re most motivated and your body is most ready for it because you’ve had a good sleep. That’s when you know it’ll be a good gym session.