Exercising regularly is beneficial for your health in so many ways, one of which includes its ability to improve sleep quality. It can induce relaxation and reduce anxiety, and hence promote good sleep. But, does exercise before bed impact your sleep negatively? A lot of people think it does, but we’ve looked at the latest research and it may be a completely different story.
Tiring yourself out before it’s time to go to bed is a great way to get better sleep and wake up feeling more energized and refreshed.
But if you’re planning a workout routine before bedtime, you’ve likely come across slants explaining how exercising at night increases your energy levels and makes it hard to get good sleep.
However, recent studies suggest that this is not necessarily true. One study found that some exercises before bed may even improve sleep quality. (1)
There is an ongoing debate on how exercises before bed affect sleep.
The thing to keep in mind is that different types of exercises have different effects on your sleep. Two important factors which determine these effects are the intensity of the workout and the exact timing.
Vigorous exercise, which increases your adrenaline, performed less than an hour before bed can affect your sleep quality and time spent falling asleep.
Here is an evidence-backed analysis to walk you through the science of working out before bed.
Should I Exercise Before Bed?
First and foremost, there is no specific time of the day that is best to exercise for optimal sleep. The ideal time varies from person to person and also depends on your daily routine. So you might love to exercise before bed, but you might find the buzz will impact your z’s!
If you have a busy schedule and can’t find any other time for work out, exercise before bed may just be the best option for you! But quite a few people out there think that exercise before bed will mean you’ll struggle to fall to sleep.
However, recent studies have refuted the idea that exercise before bed disrupts your sleep.
In one study, sixteen men and women took part in moderate-intensity exercise at different times before they would normally go to bed. It was found that exercising before sleep didn’t affect their ability to sleep. Instead, the researchers found that early evening exercise could actually help achieve better sleep for young adults, especially for poor sleepers. So, exercise before bed could be pretty beneficial for many!
In another 2020 study, researchers determined the effect of moderate-intensity exercise on sleep quality.
12 healthy males performed different exercises on three separate nights. They all did one of three things. Either no exercise, 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, or 30 minutes of resistance exercise. Each of these workouts was performed one and a half hours before they were due to go to bed.
The researchers then monitored sleep quality and they found there was no negative side effects of exercise before bed.
In a 2019 review, many different studies were analyzed in one super study/review to determine the effects of exercise before bed. The review found that moderate exercise performed at least an hour before going to sleep can improve sleep, whereas vigorous exercise ending less than an hour before bed can impair sleep time and sleep quality.
With all that in mind, you should be able to perform moderate-intensity workouts about an hour before bedtime without it impacting your snooze. On the other hand, vigorous exercise completed too close to bed will lead to difficulty in falling asleep and affect sleep quality.
So, when it comes to exercise before bed, it’s all about timing and doing the right kind of exercise. So, let’s take a look at what you should be doing.
Which Is the Best Exercise Before Bed?
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As we mentioned earlier, different exercises affect your sleep differently. Therefore, it’s important to keep track of your activity, especially if you’re working out before bed.
The timing of your exercise should also be considered. You must spare at least one hour between the end of your workout and bedtime. Any less than that might cause difficulty in falling asleep – so time it well!
If you really want to be safe, take it a step further, you should aim to complete your session 90 minutes before going to bed. This gives your body sufficient time to recover and relax, ready for an excellent sleep.
If plan to exercise before bed, we advise you to keep the intensity of your workout light to moderate. This will also help you sleep well. But what does that mean? Luckily for you, we’ve rounded up all the best exercises you should can try before you go to bed.
Here are some exercises which can make a perfect evening workout routine:
There are few light-intensity exercises as effective as a plank. It might not involved the most movement, but it definitely puts the burn on your core. And in a bedtime workout, it’s a great fit.
- Make a pushup position, but on your forearms instead of your hands, with those elbows below your shoulders
- Keep a straight line from your head to your heels. Tighten your core.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds to a minute.
A challenging exercise for core strength and stability, the bird-dog is a fantastic addition to any bedtime workout. Again, it’s not as intense as jumping squats, but it’s still a great movement that will help you sleep.
- Kneel on all fours, with your hands shoulder-width and your knees hip-width apart.
- Lift one hand and the opposite leg and straighten them out. A straight line should be formed from your hand to your foot.
- Hold for a few seconds, then return to the starting position.
- Switch the hand and the leg and repeat. This makes one rep.
3. Figure of 4
An all-round exercise for your glutes, hips, and lower back fits perfectly in a bedtime workout.
- Begin by lying on the floor with your knees bent.
- Lift your left ankle and cross it over your right knee.
- Slightly pull back your left knee. This stretches your right hip. Hold in this position for 30 seconds.
- Now relax your muscles and return to the starting position. Repeat with the other side.
4. Glute Bridge
As the name suggests, the glute-bridge is a low-impact exercise to target your glutes and strengthen your core.
- Start by lying on the floor with the knees bent, your arms should be at your side with the palms down.
- Lift your hips, squeezing the glutes, until your body forms a straight line from the back to the knees.
- Hold for a few seconds, then return to the starting position. This makes one rep.
5. Child’s Pose
This exercise is great for releasing tension from your hips and lower back. We’d definitely recommend finishing your bedtime workout with this movement to stretch, and get you ready for a fantastic nights sleep.
- Kneel down keeping your feet under the bottom, knees hip-width apart. Keep your palms on top of your thighs.
- Lower your torso to fall between your knees. Extend your arms overhead and place your palms on the ground.
- Rest in this position for about 30-60 seconds.
How Much Exercise Will Help Me Sleep?
Exercise helps improve sleep, but for continuous benefits, it is essential to be regular.
We recommend you aim for 150 minutes of light-to-moderate exercise every week. This can be done by working out for 30 minutes for 5 days a week.
Exercising for 30 minutes daily, whether during the day or in the evening, is beneficial for your sleep health, whether you exercise before bed or not. If 30 minutes at a time seems too much, you can consider splitting it up into two 15-minute workouts a day.
If you prefer vigorous exercise, strive for 75 minutes of activity each week. However, make sure not to perform these types of intense workouts too close to bedtime, as they may affect your sleep negatively, as we’ve shown above.
[Related Article: Exercise During Your Period – The Benefits and What to Avoid]
What Else Can Help Me Sleep?
In addition to healthy activity, several other things can help improve your sleep.
- Natural sleep supplements
- Stick to a consistent sleep schedule
- Reduce irregular naps during the day
- Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol before bed
- Don’t eat too much before bedtime
- Make your sleeping environment comfortable
- Turn off all electronic devices before bedtime
- Relax during the evening
Supplements for Better Sleep
Many natural supplements can enhance the quality of your sleep. By choosing something natural, it supports your body in a gentle and natural way and could help you if you feel the buzz of exercise before bed is still a little too much for you. Overall, we’d recommend OLLY sleep. It’s a lovely natural formula that offers soothing natural ingredients like L-Theanine and Chamomile to help you enjoy a restful sleep.
Moreover, another natural remedy is chamomile tea. For years, it has been regarded as an excellent sleep inducer and we personally love it for a deep, restful and rewarding sleep. We also love it with a hint of honey, which adds a subtle sweetness that will help you gently drift off to sleep after exercise before bed.
The Final Word
After rounding up the science of how exercise before bed affects your sleep, we’ve found the following interesting information.
While it’s commonly thought that doing a workout before bed impairs your sleep, recent studies suggest otherwise. If you time it right and do the right exercise before bed, you may find you get an even better sleep in!
The best time to exercise is different for everyone. Generally, whatever time works best for you is what you should go for. The important thing is that you sleep regularly, and follow the top tips we mentioned above. And, if you go for a nice natural supplement or a cup of chamomile tea, you may even enjoy an even better, deeper sleep.
Give it a go and let us know what you think!