An early morning workout or lunchtime routine doesn’t always fit into our busy schedules. If you want to maintain your active lifestyle, sometimes you have to hit the gym after the sun goes down. But does exercising at night keep us from getting quality sleep?
While the rush of a great workout can leave you feeling energized and motivated for hours, that doesn’t mean exercising at night is off-limits. In fact, studies show that exercising at night might even help you sleep better.
Read on to find out how exercising at night affects your sleep and what you can do to get the most out of your workout so you can enjoy a peaceful sleep each night.
How Does Exercising at Night Affect Your Sleep?
If you love to exercise at night, fear not. Evening workouts will not leave you restless or wired! Studies show that exercising at night does not negatively impact your sleep, as long as you stick to mild-to-moderate intensity exercises and wrap up your workout at least 90 minutes before you want to hit the hay.
During exercise, your body’s endorphin levels and core temperature rise. While these effects are great for reducing stress, they can make it harder to sleep – temporarily. For this reason, many experts used to advise against exercising at night.
However, more recent studies show that exercise at night isn’t as disruptive as we once thought. Instead, nighttime exercise may even help to improve your quality of sleep, helping you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
If you’re still worried about exercise keeping you up, the best strategy is to give your body at least a 90 minute cool down period before you head to bed. Your body will have enough time to drop the temperature, slow your heart rate, and calm your mind. This sets the stage for peaceful, deep sleep.
The Benefits of Nighttime Exercise
#1: Reduces stress, anxiety, and depression.
Stress is one of the most common reasons people miss out on quality sleep. High cortisol levels and ruminating thoughts are enough to keep anyone lying awake at night. Thankfully, exercise is nature’s best stress reliever. Studies show that exercise – even at night – can help to tame anxious thoughts and improve your overall mental wellbeing.
#2: Helps you fall asleep faster and avoid insomnia.
It’s normal to have trouble falling asleep once in a while, but if you’re one of the millions of people who struggle with insomnia, exercise can help. Whether you exercise in the morning or later in the day, being active can help you fall asleep up to 13 minutes faster. Regular exercise keeps your body temperature lower and stress hormones low to prevent those sleepless nights.
#3: Leads to more restorative sleep.
Exercise helps you get more sleep and better quality sleep. Those who exercise at night tend to spend more time in restorative slow-wave sleep and wake up less during the night.
The Best Exercises to Do at Night
Exercising at night won’t disrupt your sleep cycle if you choose the right types of exercises. In general, stick to light or moderate workouts. You’ll still reap all the benefits of exercise, but you won’t raise your heart rate or temperature so high that it will be difficult to relax later on.
Some of the best exercises to do at night are:
- Tai Chi
- Low-moderate running or jogging
- Low-moderate intensity swimming
- Light weight lifting
Tips for Exercising at Night and Sleeping Well
Healthy habits like exercise and sleep are crucial for your health. Getting them right doesn’t have to be a mystery! Follow these nighttime exercise tips to make the most of your workout and still sleep like a baby.
#1: End your workout 90 minutes before your target bedtime.
Your body needs time to cool down and slow down after exercise. Be sure to plan your nighttime exercise at least 60-90 minutes before your desired bedtime.
#2: Avoid vigorous exercise.
While light or moderate exercise will improve your sleep, vigorous exercise overstimulates your mind and body and can make it difficult to fall asleep. This includes heavy lifting, HIIT exercises, and intense running and swimming.
#3: Snack smart for sleep.
If you’re exercising at night, you’ll want to refuel your body with enough nutrients to restore and repair afterward. But, a big heavy meal before bed is a recipe for sleep trouble (and bellyaches). Prepare a small and nutritious post-workout snack to restore and rest.
#4: Cool down with meditation.
Meditation is a great way to cool down and calm down after a workout. If you struggle to relax after exercise, consider a sleep meditation or yoga Nidra to help your body adjust faster.
Restore Your Sleep with Healthy Habits and AlignLife
Exercising at night shouldn’t cause you to lose sleep. In fact, nighttime workouts could be the secret to even better sleep! If you can’t seem to get enough sleep and feel rested no matter what you do, there could be more going on underneath the surface. AlignLife can help. Reach out to your AlignLife chiropractor today to get to the bottom of your sleep troubles and finally get the rest you need!