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May 03, 2023 6 min read

The benefits of exercise are widely known. Doing exercise regularly can improve your energy levels and your mood, as well as decrease your chances of developing serious illnesses like stroke, type 2 diabetes, and a variety of cancers.

Many people have a difficult time finding time to exercise during the day due to their job, family commitments, and lengthy commutes, among other factors. To address this issue, some have chosen to exercise in the evening or at night.

Recent studies have found that engaging in moderate activity within an hour and a half of bedtime does not negatively impact sleep. Experts now think that sleep and exercise have a connection that works in both directions.

Achieving a good workout routine can help improve your sleep quality, while getting enough sleep may help you stay more active during the day.

Questions to answer include the following:

  1. Is exercising before going to bed good or bad?

  2. Will this interfere with sleep patterns?

  3. Can late-night exercise cause sleep disorders like sleep apnea?

  4. What is the best time of day to exercise?

Here we have a list of the pros and cons of evening workouts.

What is the Relationship Between Sleep and Exercise?

Exhausted Athlete Sleeping—Image from Shutterstock

It is well established that having quality rest is fundamental for our general well-being and health. However, if you are aiming to shed pounds or boost your body composition (the amount of fat compared to muscle), a night of restful sleep is even more significant.

Getting adequate sleep is essential for your muscles and brain to recuperate from physical activity, allowing you to take full advantage of your workout. Not sleeping enough hinders muscle development.

Therefore, it is especially crucial for those attempting to build muscle to get enough good quality sleep. Studies have revealed that sleeping for a minimum of seven hours a night facilitates the production of hormones necessary for muscle growth and restoration.

Related Reading >> THE IMPORTANCE OF PRE-SLEEP PROTEIN

Better sleep can help maintain your enthusiasm and vigor when exercising. Being tired can make it more difficult to exercise, so if you're not well-rested, you may be more likely to quit.

Woman Sleeping—Image from Shutterstock

Getting enough sleep is crucial for those who are attempting to lose weight. Research has revealed that sleeping for seven hours or more can help to regulate hunger hormones and aid in weight loss. Lack of sleep can lead to increased cravings for unhealthy snacks, which can make it difficult to stick to a diet.

A lesser-known result of sleep deprivation is the increased risk of inflammation. Insufficient sleep has been linked to higher levels of inflammation, which can lead to a variety of chronic health issues.

The Pros of Working Out Before Bed

1. Reduces Stress

Research has demonstrated that exercising for only 20 to 30 minutes has a calming effect that can last for hours after, and this effect is both immediate and ongoing.

Additionally, a survey revealed that 53% of participants found exercising to make them feel good, 35% said it enhanced their mood, and 30% said it decreased their stress.

2. Improves Sleep

If it's been suggested that exercising in the evening might make it difficult to fall asleep, it's not necessarily true. In fact, it may actually help with sleeping. When it comes to timing, a recent review found that high-intensity exercise done 2 to 4 hours before bed is unlikely to interfere with sleep.

However, exercise closer to bedtime in the 30 minutes to 2 hours before sleep can reduce REM sleep. Therefore, it's important to plan exercise at least 2 hours prior to going to bed to maximize its deep sleep benefits.

Woman Sleeping—Image from Shutterstock

3. Improves Performance

Studies have concluded that muscles have daily patterns, called circadian rhythms, and are more powerful in the later part of the day. Some research has demonstrated that having a higher core body temperature in the evening is associated with better suppleness and muscle strength.

4. Boosts Nutrition

The idea that eating late in the evening leads to weight gain has largely been disproved as long as the meal is small, nutritionally packed, and made up of only one macronutrient. Research indicates that having casein, a milk-based protein in supplement form, before bedtime may aid in recovery from exercise and better performance during workouts.

Man Stretching at Night—Image from Shutterstock

The Cons of Working Out Before Bed

1. Challenges Consistency

If you wait until the end of the day to do evening exercises, there is a risk that it will be pushed back to the next day due to fatigue. Additionally, there may be more passive and relaxing activities like watching TV or socializing that may become more appealing than working out.

Lack of Motivation—Image from Shutterstock

A 2019 study conducted around obesity and exercise timing suggests that opting for a routine of morning workouts may help to make it a habit more easily than doing it at night.

2. Workout Routine with Less Variety

Nigh time Cycling—Image from Shutterstock

Exercising in the evening restricts the kinds of physical activity you can do. For instance, you may have to refrain from running, jogging, or biking in your area due to the crowds after dark or safety concerns. Additionally, you could miss out on group workout classes that are usually offered during the day.

3. Intense Exercise Can Disrupt Sleep

Engaging in a strenuous activity such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT) close to bedtime can be detrimental to your sleep quality, leaving you more prone to waking up during the night.

It is easy to overdo it and cause a spike in your body’s cortisol levels, resulting in poor sleep. Nevertheless, moderate exercise can have a positive effect on your sleep efficiency.

Weightlifting at Night—Image from Shutterstock

4. Lack of Group Classes

Some gyms and studios may have classes in the evening, but the majority of instructor-led group workouts are during the day or in the early evening. It may depend on the location, but there are advantages to exercising with a big group.

A study indicated that people who attended group exercise classes had better physical and mental health than those who exercised alone or with two people.

Lone workout at Night—Image from Shutterstock

Best Exercises to do Before Bed

If you are a night owl who prefers night workouts, then go ahead! Regular exercise is essential if you want to live a healthy lifestyle. However, the type of exercise done before bed could cause poor sleep. Nevertheless, there are various exercises you can do which will help you stay fit and also help you to get a good night's sleep.

Cyclists at Night—Image from Shutterstock

1. Low-Impact Activities

Activities that won't cause your heart rate to go up too much, like walking, yoga, or stretching, are good to do before bed. Research has indicated that these kinds of low-impact pursuits can help to lower feelings of stress, and make your body and mind calmer so that you can get a better night's rest.

  • Yoga

Research studies found that tailored individual Yoga practice improves sleep quality, fatigue, anxiety, and depression in chronic insomnia disorder. The most effective are poses that focus on breathing and restoration.

Yoga at Night—Image from Shutterstock
  • Walking

A study found that taking regular walks can be a helpful way to de-stress and get exercise, while also improving the quality of sleep. Women experienced the most positive results.

  • Stretching

Taking time at night to do some light stretching can be a great way to relax and de-stress, as well as get a little extra exercise. Studies have found that having a better range of motion can really boost your results when doing weight training, especially in the lower body.

Woman Stretching at night—Image from Shutterstock

2. Moderate-Intensity Exercises

Cardio exercises that are not too intense, like jogging, swimming, or riding a bike, can be advantageous before bed. Aerobic exercise has been shown to increase the amount of slow-wave sleep, meaning deep sleep. It's wise to do these activities about an hour prior to lying down to allow your body time to cool off.

Swimmer - Image from Shutterstock

3. Intense Exercises

Intense exercises such as strength training, heavy weight training, HIIT, or sprinting should not be done close to bedtime. These activities increase the heart rate and release adrenaline, which can make it difficult to fall asleep.

Athlete Sprinting at night—Image from Shutterstock

Conclusion

In conclusion, the best time of the day for scheduling workouts depends on your schedule. Furthermore, if your typical workouts involve vigorous exercises and weight training, working out before bed might not be for you.

However, exercising before bed can be beneficial if done correctly. Be sure to complete your workout at least an hour before bedtime and limit your exercise routine to low and moderate-intensity activities.

If you suffer from a sleep disorder such as insomnia, a low-intensity workout at night may be as effective as sleep medicine.

In any case, make sure to practice good sleep hygiene and get the necessary rest— this is equally essential as physical activity for your general health and well-being.