Throughout the fitness community, many people believe that exercising before bed is not a good idea. The logic behind this rumor is not entirely unfounded either.
It is common knowledge that working out raises your adrenaline levels, which in turn increases your heart rate, which in turn boosts your body’s core temperature. When we think of a good night's sleep, adrenaline does not usually come to mind.
As such, many people avoid exercising before they go to bed. But is there any truth to this claim? Or have people been blindly following it for too long? For some people, this claim that exercise is band certainly rings true.
But most of the population the exact opposite is actually true. In this article, we investigate whether or not exercise before bed makes it more challenging to go to sleep. We will also go over some good work out routines you can perform before going to bed.
Will Exercise Before You Sleep Keep You Up At Night?
Generally speaking, no, exercise before bed will not keep you up at night. However, as we said, this answer speaks for the majority of the cases — which leaves lots of room for nuances. Some people do have trouble falling asleep after they exercise a lot.
This case is especially true if you suffer from sleeping disorders like insomnia. If you cannot fall asleep on your own very easily, then any amount of adrenaline will only make things worse.
As such, if you fall under this category, then you should try and keep your workout routine during the morning or afternoon hours. Working out in the evening is fine too, but try and space it out so that you give yourself a few hours of winding down before going to sleep.
A few hours should be more than enough time for your adrenaline levels to subside and for your body to replace a stable internal temperature of ninety-eight point six degrees Fahrenheit. However, for the most part, it seems like exercise before bed does not affect the sleeping patterns of most individuals at all.
Indeed, many recent studies suggest that it can actually improve the quality of your sleep. One such study, which tested one thousand participants reported that roughly eighty-three percent of them experienced no difficulty falling asleep thirty minutes after a workout.
So, the odds are that you fall into this category. But why is it right to exercise at any time of the day, even at night? We will explore this point in the next section.
Why Is Most Exercise At Any Time of the Day Actually Good?
If the only time of day you can squeeze in a workout falls around the evening time, then you should go for it. Far from hurting your sleep, exercise can actually make it a lot better in terms of quality. One significant benefit that comes from the activity is more prolonged periods of deep sleep.
The is the stage in your sleep cycle that counts in terms of making you feel alert and rested during the day. The more deep sleep you get, the healthier and rejuvenated you feel.
Plus deep sleep helps all the other systems in your body function properly — from your cardiac system to your digestive system. That is why we feel so bad when we miss a night of sleep.
People who exercise at some point in the day — even if it thirty minutes before you go to sleep — report higher levels of deep sleep when compared with people who do not work out during the day. As such, it is much better to get some exercise (even if it is late at night) than nothing at all.
However, there are some exceptions to this rule. You should avoid incredibly intense exercise before bed if possible. We’re not talking running, but training where you go so hard that you cannot even speak to someone.
Studies show that when you perform these exhaustive workouts an hour before bed, then it can keep you up at night. As such, we recommend you stick to lighter exercises and stretches. To give you some inspiration, we collected some of our favorite physical activities to do before you hit the hay.
What Are Some Good Exercises You Can Do Before Bed?
Now that we know more about whether or not it is terrible to exercise before bed let us take a look at some exercises and stretches you can perform that will give you the health benefits of a good workout without the surge of adrenaline that comes with intensive training.
Yoga combines the physical endurance involved in holding stretches and poses with the mental fortitude of centering on your breath and clearing your mind. There are plenty of poses you can do, but we recommend a simple one like the Warrior II.
If you want to perform the Warrior II, then follow these steps. Stand firmly and position your feet four feet apart. Keep your left foot pointing forward while you rotate your right foot into a ninety-degree position. Make sure that the back of your left foot (specifically the heel) lines up with the arch of your right foot.
Now that your feet are in the right position, you can bend your front knee until it reaches a ninety-degree angle. You will feel the stretch of this pose in your back leg as you lean forward on your front. Meanwhile, lift your arms so that they line up with your shoulder blades.
Keep the palms of your hands full and stare at your fingers. Though it looks pretty straightforward, this pose strengthens your ankles and knees and helps steady your mind from intrusive thoughts.
Most people perform pilates as a warm up or cool down during their exercises, but they also do a tremendous pre-bedtime exercise. First, position your feet far apart, at least the length on your hips. Then, place your hands up against the side. Try and relax your shoulder blades.
Once you feel them become loose, use your ab muscles, and gradually move forward. Let gravity allow your arms to fall and hang by the floor. Hold them there and breathe in deeply and slowly. Hold this pilates pose for fifteen seconds while you let your arms try and touch the ground.
Once you finish the pose, slowly bend back up into a standing position. Remember to keep your abs engaged the entire time. This exercise does not involve your abs while stretching your shoulders and legs, but it also helps your mind decompress through the process of breathing.
Remember that your brain is a muscle too! It is just as important to take care of it through rest. One great way you can achieve this process is through meditation.
If you are new to meditation, then do not worry if your mind wanders (this is common for all people and actually an essential part of the process). Dim the lights in your room and get into a comfortable sitting position. Close your eyes and begin focusing on your breath.
Imagine an air current traveling through your nose, entering your lungs and then exiting through your mouth. Your breath is one of the few consistent things you can focus on, so when your mind wanders try, acknowledge it, and then re-center yourself using your breath.
Doing this exercise for twenty-five minutes every day can make a significant impact on your emotional and mental health and can even help improve your self-esteem by allowing you to identify patterns in negative or intrusive thoughts.
Bear Hug Stretch
This stretch works several groups of muscles in your upper back region. It also helps alleviate shoulder pain you may experience from bad posture or sitting hunched over a computer all day. First, stand up straight and take a deep breath. While you inhale, open your arms up wide.
As you exhale cross your arms over each other. Your right arm should grab your left shoulder blade, and your left arm should grab your right shoulder blade — kind of like you hugged yourself.
Hold this hug position for thirty seconds, then inhale and release. Repeat, except with a different arm on top this time.
We carry a lot of tension in our neck area, so any stretch that helps relieve this condition also helps our head and shoulders. First, sit down in a comfortable position. Then take your right hand and place it on the left side of your head (around your ear area).
Then, using your right hand, slowly pull your head toward your right shoulder. Inhale, hold your breath and then exhale. Keep this position steady for five breaths. Then, repeat on the opposite side of your head using your left arm on your right ear.
Once you finish this stretch, then place your chin on to the center of your chest. You should be looking straight down. Hold this position for five breaths.
Then return your head to the starting position before leaning it back. Hold it back for an additional five breaths. Primarily you work your neck’s entire range of motion with the stresses which allow it to reduce any pain you may experience.
This position helps stretch out your back and neck, though you will need a chair or couch to perform it properly. Get down on your knees into a kneeling position. You should face the chair or sofa when you do this step. Make sure that your knees lineup with your hips before moving on to the next part.
Place your arms over the chair, so they wrap around the back. You will feel your hips lunge slightly forward and you will feel the stretch throughout the length of your back. Hold the position for thirty seconds before returning to the neutral position. You can repeat the step three times, or less if you feel considerable pain.
Everyone probably remembers the forward bend stretch from warm up during school physical education. The time works great at flexing your abdominal muscles, as well as your back and quadriceps. Sit on the ground and extend your legs forward, making sure they do not bend.
Press your butt firmly into the ground and engage your ab muscles while you slowly leaned forward. Your arms should extend outwards as you touch your feet. Your head will also move forward, and you should tuck your chin into your chest.
You can hold this pose for a while — between five and ten minutes. However, make sure you do not overexert yourself. If you feel pain, then stop the stress immediately. Once you finish, then sit back up.
Why You Should Consider Working Out Before Going to Bed
Finding time to exercise during the day is no easy task, especially when you put time constraints on when you can actually do it. While morning might fit the workout schedules of some early risers, it is impractical for a lot of working programs.
Plus early morning exercise can cut into your sleeping hours, which can quickly cause your overall health to go down the drain. Same goes for a lunchtime workout. In a perfect world, we would all have plenty of time to eat and squeeze a quick run in, but most work schedules allow no such freedom.
As such, the evening and nighttime are usually the most viable options for most working schedules. And as we saw in the last section — any exercise is almost always preferable to no activity. So do not feel bad about exercising during the evening. Try it out, see if it works for you, and then go from there.
If you find that it does keep you up at night, then try some relaxing, low impact exercises like the ones we listed earlier. These will provide health benefits without the adrenaline spike. The odds are that you will find it actually improves your overall sleeping.
We hope this article convinced you the exercise before bed is not as bad as it might seem. Indeed for the majority of the population, it is an extremely viable option. So take that night run, or do some late night yoga!