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Why you shouldn’t exercise before bed

Why you shouldn’t exercise before bed

Exercise is undeniably beneficial for your overall health, aiding in physical fitness, mental well-being, and quality sleep. However, timing plays a crucial role in how exercise impacts sleep patterns. While regular physical activity can promote better sleep, engaging in vigorous exercise right before bedtime might just leave you lying awake at night!

Understanding the relationship between exercise and sleep

Effects of exercise on sleep quality

Generally, regular exercise during the day has been linked to improved sleep quality and duration. It can help regulate sleep patterns and promote a deeper, more restorative sleep. Physical activity stimulates the release of endorphins, reduces stress, and tires the body, contributing to relaxation and better sleep. However, exercising too close to bedtime can elevate heart rate, body temperature, and adrenaline levels, making it difficult for the body to wind down for sleep. Vigorous exercise also triggers the release of cortisol, a hormone that promotes wakefulness and alertness, potentially delaying the onset of sleep.

The negative impact of late night exercise on sleep

Sleep onset and sleep quality

Late-night exercise may delay the body's natural wind-down process, making it harder to fall asleep. This is because raised body temperature and increased heart rate from exercise may take several hours to return to a state conducive to sleep, impacting sleep quality.

Disruption of sleep stages

Late exercise might disrupt the stages of sleep, especially REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, which is crucial for cognitive function, memory consolidation, and overall restfulness. 

Read our article about achieving deep sleep for tips on how to get all the rest you need.

Sleep disruptions and insomnia

Some people may experience difficulties in initiating sleep or staying asleep due to the stimulating effects of late exercise, leading to insomnia-like symptoms.

Recommendations for optimal sleep

Timing matters

Aim to complete moderate to vigorous exercise at least 2-3 hours before bedtime, allowing the body enough time to wind down and return to a relaxed state conducive to sleep.

Moderate exercise near bedtime

Light, gentle exercises like yoga, stretching, or relaxation techniques may be more suitable before bedtime as they promote relaxation rather than intense physical exertion.

Establish a routine

Consistency in bedtime routines, including winding down activities like reading, meditation, or a warm bath, signals to the body that it's time to prepare for sleep.

Listen to your body

Pay attention to how late-night exercise affects your sleep quality and adjust your routine accordingly to find what works best for you.

While exercise is important for staying healthy, timing plays a critical role in its impact on sleep. Engaging in intense physical activity right before bedtime may make it much harder for you to fall asleep and affect sleep quality. Understanding your body's responses to exercise and sleep patterns can help you optimise your routine for a restful night's sleep!

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