Finding that perfect time to work out can seem as elusive as perfect abs. For many people with busy schedules, nighttime workouts are the only possible way to sneak in some exercise. But won’t working out before bed disrupt sleep? Not necessarily. Working out before bed can be a viable option with desirable health benefits. Read on to learn more about the pros and cons of a late night sweat session below.
Health Benefits Of Exercise
Getting regular exercise, no matter what time of day, is good for you. Experts recommend that adults do moderate aerobic exercise for about 150 minutes every week. Additionally, they suggest most healthy adults should try to move more and sit less.1
The potential benefits of physical activity include:
- Maintaining healthy weight and body fat levels
- Mental health support
- Increased bone and muscle strength
- More restful sleep2
Pros And Cons Of Working Out Before Bedtime
Morning workouts and afternoon workouts may look the same on paper, but they can have very different effects. That’s because the time of day you workout may impact the quality and results of your exercise.3 So, if you plan to train at night, it’s important to understand the pros and cons.
Below are some general bits of information concerning night workouts. However, as Tony Horton likes to remind people, everybody is different. There are many factors — age, fitness level, and health — that influence your workout just as much as the time you do it. Speak with a personal trainer or doctor to get tailored medical advice for your workout times.
Night owls may rejoice to learn that a workout before bed can potentially benefit both sleep and fitness goals. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should be running at midnight. The good results take some planning and proper execution. Here’s how to achieve optimal results.
More Energy At Night
One great part of late-night exercise is that you don’t need to wake up at the crack of dawn to do it. At night, you’re already awake and warmed up.
This does more than help you avoid the snooze buttons, too. Research suggests that people can work out nearly 20% longer at night and at a higher level. This increased stamina and energy may even lead to quicker muscle and aerobic development.4
Potential To Tone Faster
Evening workouts may help you increase muscle gains. During the late afternoon and evening, your hormone levels and core body temperature are at optimal levels for muscle growth. So, some evening exercise may help you bulk up faster than a morning in the gym.5
Reduce Stress Before Bed
Exercise may help reduce stress hormones, like adrenaline and cortisol, while simultaneously increasing mood-boosting endorphins. This calms the body and relaxes the mind.6 That makes an evening workout particularly helpful, because it helps tackle the day’s accumulated stress. So, your evening workout may help you unwind from a hectic day and prepare for a more relaxed evening and rest.7
Getting some exercise is almost certainly better than no exercise. So, if the end of the day is the only time you can work out, so be it. However, there are a few details to note about exercise right before bed.8
Issues With Consistency
The end of the day can leave even the most energetic person feeling drained. This lack of energy may dissuade you from following through with your late night aerobic workout. Also, if you’re naturally a night owl, you may be more likely to stick to a nighttime exercise routine.9,10
Sleep And Exercise — A Symbiotic Relationship
Sleep disruption is the most common reason people avoid working out before bedtime. However, this impact depends largely on the type of exercise and intensity levels.
High-intensity exercise done less than an hour before bed may negatively impact things like sleep time. However, more moderate activity will not necessarily disrupt your sleep — and it might actually help you sleep well.11
Popular belief tends to argue that working out before bedtime will result in a night of restless sleep. However, recent studies have found that 30 minutes of moderate exercise about 90 minutes before bed didn’t affect core body temperature or sleep.12,13
In fact, multiple studies determined that moderate exercise before bed actually helped support good sleep health. Participants who exercised in the evening fell asleep faster and experienced more slow wave sleep and deeper REM sleep.14,15
The bottom line is that you should consider the type of fitness you want to do at night — and how it coincides with your bedtime. Finding that rhythm can be good for your overall health and for proper sleep.
The Crucial Balance Between Sleep And Exercise
When you get good, quality sleep it can help support your mood and your creativity. Restorative sleep also helps the body and muscles recover after exercise. In order to get that quality rest, you will need to sleep between seven and nine hours per night.16,17
Conversely, if your sleep cycle is out of whack, it may leave you feeling fatigued and unmotivated. This lack of energy can then hamper your exercise. Avoid this cycle by finding a nighttime routine of fitness and rest that leaves you refreshed the next day.18
Tips For Scheduling Exercise Before Bed
Tony Horton suggests people follow a few tips whenever they workout at night. These guidelines may help you strike that delicate balance between regular exercise at night and optimal sleep.
Develop Healthy Habits
A healthy fitness rhythm at night can be a great relaxing bedtime routine. You can do this by avoiding devices that produce lights 30 minutes before bed. And, try to avoid eating a few hours before your nighttime workouts and sleep. All of this may help your body clock, fitness, and sleep align.19,20
Avoid Cardio Before Bed
Aerobic exercise sessions like running raise your core body temperature. This may restrict the production of melatonin, a hormone produced in the brain for sleep. Less dynamic workouts, such as strength training or yoga, don’t spike the body temperature as much. The stimulation from this kind of exercise may also help reduce stress. So, they can be a great option before bed.21
Find A Workout That Works For You
At the end of the day, it’s all about finding a workout schedule that works for you. Follow the information above to inform your nighttime workouts. This can help you decide on what type of fitness to do and when to do it. You may find that high-intensity interval training keeps you awake at night, but yoga before bed helps you sleep.
With some trial-and-error, you can find a good nighttime fitness program. Ideally, it can help you get the exercise you desire without disrupting your body’s internal clock. That should hopefully get you closer to consistent fitness and a sound night’s sleep.
Simple And Effective Exercises To Do At Your Desk
Effective Shoulder Stretches And Exercise To Help Relieve Tight Shoulders
Whole Body Stretching Routine: Easy Relaxing Stretches For Better Flexibility