Can Working Out Before Bed Affect Your Sleep? 

Working out before bed can have lots of benefits for your sleep quality. In this blog, we share easy-to-try tips on how to maximize the benefits of exercising close to bedtime and what mistakes to avoid for a goodnight’s rest. Bearassentials An evening workout can help you fall asleep faster and have deeper, restorative rest. Steer clear of vigorous pre-bedtime exercises and opt for activities like yoga. Aim to complete your workout at least two hours before you go to bed. Did you know? Physical activity stimulates muscle repair and growth during sleep, making evening workouts beneficial for muscle recovery and overall physical performance! Exercise helps promote relaxation, reduce anxiety, and keep your body’s internal sleep-wake cycle in sync. One popular opinion though is that working out before bed can make it harder to get a good night’s rest. But, does this show the full picture of the relationship between exercise and sleep? Recent research has found that it’s possible to enjoy exercise close to bedtime, without compromising your sleep. So, how exactly can you reap the benefits of pre-bedtime exercising while avoiding the downsides? Let’s find out! Does Exercising At Night Help You Sleep? Yes – and no. Depending on factors like the intensity of the exercises and how close to bedtime you workout, exercising can help or hinder your ability to sleep well. To understand how this is the case, let’s look at both sides of the coin, beginning with the benefits of working out before bed: Improved Sleep Onset For some people, engaging in physical activity before bed can help promote relaxation and ease the transition into sleep. Exercise triggers the release of endorphins and reduces levels of stress hormones, which contributes to a sense of calmness and mental relaxation conducive to falling asleep. Deeper, More Restorative Sleep Regular exercise has been shown to improve sleep quality and increase the amount of time spent in restorative deep sleep stages. Deep sleep is important for physical recovery, cognitive function, and overall well-being and exercising before bed helps facilitate the onset of deeper rest for some sleepers. Reduced Nighttime Awakenings Engaging in physical activity earlier in the evening may help regulate your circadian rhythm and promote more consolidated sleep. By increasing your body’s temperature and then allowing it to cool down naturally post-exercise, you may experience fewer disruptions during the night. So, if you were wondering, “Are there any benefits of running before bed?”, then the points discussed above all point to “Yes!”. Now, let’s turn to the downsides of working out before bed. Why Shouldn’t I Workout Late At Night? If you’re wondering instead, “Is it bad to exercise late at night?”, the following points will show that, for the most part, working out too late in the night may negatively affect your sleep. Here’s why: Disrupted Sleep Onset Intense or vigorous exercise close to bedtime can elevate your heart rate, increase alertness, and stimulate the release of adrenaline and other stress hormones. This can make it more difficult to relax and fall asleep, particularly if you’re sensitive to the effects of exercise on your arousal level. Delayed Sleep Timing Exercising too close to bedtime can delay the onset of sleep for some sleepers. The increased body temperature and activation of the sympathetic nervous system (responsible for the body’s “fight or flight” response) may make it challenging to wind down and transition into sleep mode. Increased Nighttime Awakening While regular exercise can promote deeper sleep, engaging in vigorous physical activity too late in the evening may lead to more frequent awakenings during the night. Elevated cortisol levels and residual muscle tension from exercise may interfere with sleep continuity and diminish overall sleep quality. Potential for Restlessness Some sleepers may experience feelings of restlessness or discomfort following a late-night workout, particularly if it involves high-impact or strenuous activities. This physical discomfort can make it harder to relax and settle into restful sleep. If you find yourself tossing and turning in bed when you workout before bed, consider using sleep aids like weighted blankets. Our Cotton Napper, for instance, is a chunky-knit and evenly-weighted blanket that feels like a gentle hug as you sleep. The Deep Pressure Stimulation from the weight in our Napper promotes the production of the sleep hormone, melatonin, which helps you fall asleep more easily and recover following your workout. In the next section, let’s look at how to reap the benefits of working out before bed, while steering clear of the downsides we discussed. Cotton Weighted Blanket Dreamy, buttery softness Calms body & mind for deeper sleep Hand-knitted huggable comfort It’s Napper Time Cocoonable, couchworthy perfection Unveil the secrets to restful sleep and join the Napperhood for a chance to win our perfect weighted blanket, the Cotton Napper. Get expert tips and insights delivered to your inbox. How To Maximize The Benefits Of Working Out At Night Here are some tips to help you make the most of your late night workouts: Choose the Right Time So, what’s the best time to exercise for better sleep? It is recommended to schedule your evening workout at least 2 to 3 hours before bedtime to allow your body time to cool down and relax. Aim to finish your workout at least two hours before your intended bedtime to minimize the risk of sleep disturbances. Select Suitable Exercises Opt for low to moderate-intensity exercises that promote relaxation and stress reduction, such as yoga, Pilates, gentle stretching, or light cardio. These activities can help calm your mind and prepare your body for sleep without elevating your heart rate or stimulating your nervous system. Focus on Recovery Incorporate post-workout recovery strategies such as foam rolling, stretching, and deep breathing exercises to reduce muscle tension, promote flexibility, and enhance relaxation. Pay attention to your body’s signals and prioritize self-care to support optimal recovery and sleep quality. Stay Hydrated Drink plenty of water throughout the day and during your evening workout to stay hydrated and support your body’s recovery process. Avoid consuming large amounts of fluids too close to bedtime to minimize disruptions during the night. Fuel Your Body With Nutritious Food Eat a balanced meal or snack containing carbohydrates and protein within an hour or two before your workout to provide your body with the necessary energy and nutrients for optimal performance and recovery. Avoid heavy or spicy meals that may cause discomfort or indigestion before bedtime. Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine Establish a calming bedtime routine that includes activities such as reading, listening to soothing music, taking a warm bath, or practicing relaxation techniques like meditation or deep breathing. This can help signal to your body that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep after your evening workout. When in need of extra support to wind down, use sleep aids like weighted blankets whose gentle weight increases feelings of calm and security. Listen to Your Body Pay attention to how your body responds to evening workouts and adjust your routine as needed to optimize your performance and sleep quality. If you find that exercising at night consistently disrupts your sleep, consider experimenting with alternative workout times or modifying the intensity and duration of your evening workouts. Next, let’s look at pitfalls to steer clear of when choosing to go for a late night gym session. Mistakes To Avoid When Working Out Before Bed Here are six mistakes to steer clear of for optimal results when hitting the gym at night Exercising Too Intensely Engaging in exercises like a high-intensity cardio workout before bed can elevate your heart rate and stimulate your nervous system, making it difficult to wind down and fall asleep. Avoid intense cardio or strength training sessions within two to three hours of bedtime to allow your body time to cool down and relax. Ignoring Your Body’s Signals While some people find that exercising before bed helps them relax and sleep better, others may experience the opposite effect. Pay attention to your own body’s response to evening workouts and adjust your routine accordingly. If you find that exercising late disrupts your sleep, shift your workouts to earlier in the day. Skipping Cool Down and Stretching Neglecting to properly cool down and stretch after a workout can leave your muscles feeling tense and fatigued, making it harder to relax and fall asleep. Incorporate gentle stretching exercises and deep breathing techniques into your post-workout routine to promote relaxation and reduce muscle soreness Stimulating Activities Before Bed Engaging in stimulating activities like watching TV, scrolling through your phone, or checking emails immediately after a bedtime workout can interfere with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. Aim to create a calming bedtime routine that includes activities like reading, listening to soothing music, or practicing relaxation techniques to prepare your mind and body for sleep. Neglecting Hydration Sweating during exercise can lead to dehydration, which can cause discomfort and disrupt your sleep. Make sure to hydrate properly before, during, and after your workout to replace lost fluids and maintain optimal hydration levels. However, be mindful of drinking too much water close to bedtime to avoid frequent trips to the bathroom during the night. By avoiding these common bedtime workout mistakes and adopting healthy exercise and sleep habits, you can enjoy the benefits of physical activity while promoting restful and rejuvenating sleep. Next, let’s look at exercises that are most recommended for late night gym sessions. What Are The Best Exercises Before Bedtime? Not all exercises are equal when it comes to how they affect your sleep. That’s why, if you want to work out in the evening, it’s essential to choose your activity wisely. Here are some of the best exercises to do if you’re planning to work out before bed: Yoga Gentle yoga poses can help relax your body and calm your mind. Poses like Child’s Pose, Forward Fold, and Legs-Up-The-Wall are great options. Perform each pose slowly and focus on your breath. Stretching Spending a few minutes stretching can help release tension from your muscles and improve flexibility. Focus on stretches for your neck, shoulders, back, hips, and legs. Hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds and breathe deeply. Deep Breathing Breathing exercises can help activate your body’s relaxation response. Try diaphragmatic breathing, also known as belly breathing, by inhaling deeply through your nose, letting your belly expand, and exhaling slowly through your mouth. Tai Chi This gentle martial art combines slow, flowing movements with deep breathing and mental focus. Practicing Tai Chi before bed can help reduce stress and improve sleep quality. Pilates Pilates exercises focus on strengthening your core muscles, improving posture, and enhancing body awareness. Choose gentle Pilates exercises that won’t leave you feeling too energized, such as pelvic tilts, leg slides, or shoulder bridges. Foam Rolling Using a foam roller to massage your muscles can help release tension and promote relaxation. Focus on areas that feel tight or sore, such as your back, thighs, calves, and shoulders. Roll slowly and breathe deeply. Walking Taking a leisurely stroll before bed can help clear your mind and reduce stress. Aim for a gentle pace and focus on enjoying the scenery around you. Avoid intense or vigorous walking that may increase your heart rate significantly. Stress Ball Squeezes Squeezing a stress ball or small knot pillow can help relieve tension in your hands and forearms. Sit comfortably and squeeze the ball tightly for a few seconds before releasing. Repeat several times on each hand. Light Strength Training Performing light strength training exercises with resistance bands or light weights can help relax your muscles and improve sleep quality. Focus on exercises that target large muscle groups, such as squats, lunges, or bicep curls. Remember to steer clear of any exercises that cause pain or discomfort and to complete your workout at least two hours before bedtime. Conclusion Late night workouts come with benefits as well as downsides. While light to moderate-intensity activities like yoga and stretching may promote relaxation and improve sleep onset, vigorous exercise close to bedtime can elevate heart rate and disrupt sleep. It’s essential to listen to your body, choose activities that suit your preferences, and maintain good sleep hygiene practices to optimize the benefits of evening workouts while minimizing sleep disturbances. With mindful attention and a balanced approach, you can enjoy the rewards of exercise while supporting restful sleep for overall well-being.

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