Common advice from health and fitness professionals is to exercise first thing in the morning. Granted, a morning workout helps you get it over and done with and means you’re less likely to ditch it as you might if you’re tired after a long day. But, the other concern is that working out before bed can also interfere with your sleep.
According to Healthline, a number of recent studies have found that working out at night doesn’t actually seem to hinder your sleep — which is great news for night owls.
A study of 12 healthy males undertaken this year had them complete either 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, 30 minutes of moderate-intensity resistance training or no exercise at all. Those who participated in the exercise finished working out an hour and a half before they went to bed.
The 12 men also slept in the lab, where researchers were able to measure their core body temperature as well as their sleep quality. And they were able to deduce that the movement before bed didn’t seem to affect their quality of sleep.
A 2019 research review analysed 23 studies related to night workouts and sleep and found that evening workouts can actually improve your sleep quality as long as it’s moderate exercise and is completed more than one hour before heading to bed.
This means vigorous exercises are off the table at night if you don’t want them to impact on your sleep. According to Healthline, workouts like HIIT, heavy weightlifting, running and skipping can stimulate your nervous system and raise your heart rate too much, which in turn makes it difficult to get to sleep.
On the other hand, moderate workouts like yoga, stretching and walking were found to improve your sleep. Heading for a leisurely swim or bike ride is also moderate enough to not have a negative impact on your shuteye.
As for timings, aim to finish your night workout at least 90 minutes before heading to bed, as this gives your body enough time to calm down before you hit the hay.