Should You Exercise Before Bed?
Most of us are very busy during the day. We cannot find time in the morning to do our exercise. Should we exercise before bed instead?
Let’s face it: waking up very early to exercise before work or school is just hard to do.
And the day flies by so quickly, the only time left is right before bed.
But, is exercising before bed a healthy habit? Is exercising before bed better than morning exercises?
Let us find out!
What happens when you exercise?
What really happens to our bodies when we exercise? Well, exercise affects the brain and body in many ways.
For starters, it increases the heart rate. This will then pump more oxygen in our brain.
Also, it helps in releasing hormones that improve the growth of our brain cells. When we exercise, our entire body starts communicating.
Our body transports important biochemical messages from one cell to another.
Other than that, our body’s temperature also rises as we burn fats and carbohydrates.
How many hours before bed should you exercise?
Researchers in Switzerland did a systematic review to understand the impact of exercise timing.
The goal was to find the extent to which evening exercise affects sleep.
The findings revealed that evening exercise does not negatively affect sleep. It positively affects it.
But here’s the thing:
Can we say that we can just exercise right before we go to bed? Actually, no. Still, the timing of your exercise matters.
Sleep-onset latency and total sleep time might be affected after vigorous exercise less than 1 hour before bedtime.
That said, you should end your exercise at least an hour before you go to sleep and avoid doing any high-intensity activity at such a time.
Related: 8 Evening Yoga Stretches to Release Tension & Relax
How does late-night exercise affect sleep?
Researchers in Finland looked into know the effects of vigorous late-night exercise on sleep quality.
Their findings were published in the Journal of Sleep Research.
It showed that regular physical activity can enhance overall sleep quality.
They examined and monitored eleven physically fit, young adults in their sleep lab.
The participants did vigorous late-night exercises that lasted about 35 minutes. And they ended about 2 hours and 20 minutes before their bedtime.
The result showed that vigorous late-night exercise does not affect sleep quality.
But, we have to remember that the participants were done with their exercise at least 2 hours before their bedtime.
This supports what we mentioned above that the timing of sleep does matter.
What are the benefits of exercising before bed?
Studies suggest that late-night exercise does not affect sleep negatively. But in fact, it helps us sleep better when done on time.
That said, exercising before bed might lead to the same benefits as exercising any time of day.
Take for example what researchers at the University of Missouri found.
Regular exercise correlates to a longer health span. Moreover, it can also delay the onset of 40 chronic conditions.
Exercise can also improve endurance training and even mental health.
Also, exercise can help us control our weight. It can also reduce the risk of getting heart disease as it improves our heart rate and blood circulation.
Moreover, exercise can help the body manage blood sugar and insulin levels.
It also helps smokers to quit easily, and sharpen their learning and thinking skills.
Exercise strengthens our bones and muscles. It can also improve sexual health.
What are the risks of exercising before bed?
Several studies have proven that exercising before bed does not prove the myth that it is not good for the body.
But, we have to remember that timing is crucial.
Exercising at night may have effects on cardiac autonomic control of the heart during the first sleeping hours.
Moreover, it is also important to follow exercise instructions properly.
This helps reduce the risk of injuries or negative outcomes from physical activities.
Precautions to take for late night exercises
The major precaution to take if you want to exercise late at night is to finish it at least one hour before you plan to go to sleep.
To enjoy the benefits of exercising without impairing the quality of your sleep, you have to give yourself time to wind down after your workout.
This will allow the body temperature and heart rate to be back to normal.
For general exercise, you should be mindful of the temperature, humidity, and air pollution.
If you wish to exercise at night in hot weather, you should do it indoors.
People with diabetes, hypertension and osteoarthritis are also encouraged to exercise but within certain precautions.
Exercising any time of the day truly brings a lot of benefits.
That said, we can say that if you exercise before bed, it’s still as beneficial and healthy as doing it in the morning.
But, we have to do it on time to not affect our sleep quality.
Moreover, as with exercise in general, we have to be careful and understand the risks and precautions before we do it.