Exercise before bedtime can help you sleep better, or it can leave you sleepless...
Remember when you were a kid and the last thing you wanted to do was go to sleep? Now you're an adult and sleep is the best gift anyone can give you. My how things change...
Getting adequate sleep is a pillar of health and fitness and I've talked about how a lack of sleep and weight gain go hand in hand. Therefore for many reasons, I'm on a constant quest to see how I can get the deepest most satisfying sleep that is humanly possible. I've purchased a feather bed, which made my bed feel like that of a five-star hotel. I've read before bed. I've sipped red wine before bed. I've had sex before bed, and I've taken Melatonin before bed. Still, nothing, and I mean nothing, puts me into a deeper sleep than exercising before bed. I'm not alone either. The national sleep foundation performed a study in 2013 on 1,000 people and 75% of them agreed with me. Those in the study who identified themselves as exercisers noted that they experienced a better quality sleep than sedentary people. Therefore, in addition to the many benefits of exercise, you may be able to add a restful night's sleep to the list. Still, not everyone experiences the same benefit. Note that only 750 of the study's participants noted improved sleep patterns. There are many other people who experience no difference at all, and even find that late workouts disrupt their sleep. So while a sound slumber is enticing, you may need to consider other motivations to exercise before bed.
There are practical reasons why you would prefer a late night workout versus other times. Maybe you're not a morning person and dragging yourself out of bed is all the upperbody work you need in the mornings. Perhaps you have a demanding job and working through lunch is a common occurrence. Maybe you've got kiddies and want to spend time with them before they go to bed. Or, you could have no reason at all aside from you just prefer late workouts. It's all about finding the right timing for you and making sure your fitness regimen is sustainable.
Should you exercise before bedtime, you definitely want to give late exercises a trial run first because results tend to vary, and it's not exactly clear why. For you, exercise before bed could mean a sleepless night, which is detrimental to both your physical and mental health. It makes sense though because exercise increases your adrenaline, heart rate, brain activity, and body temperature. All that logically sounds like a night of staring at the ceiling and longing for your brain to shut off.
If a late workout is your only option due to work or life scheduling, then try to get it in at least two hours before bedtime. Help your body cool down by taking a quick cold shower or relaxing in front of a fan. Lastly, light some candles and focus on slowing your breathing in order to decrease your adrenaline levels. If these tips don't work, you may want to reduce the intensity of your pre-sleep workout routine. Try skipping the cardio for resistance training or yoga instead. Above all, stay mindful of your heart rate, and keep it controlled.
So do you partake in late night workouts? How has it affected your sleep?