Do Late Workouts Really Mess With Sleep?
We know that exercise helps us sleep better and improves overall health and well-being.
But the timing of your workout can make a difference.
Exercising too close to bedtime can make it challenging for some people to fall asleep. Especially, high intensity exercise raises your body temperature, speeds up heart rate, and stimulates your nervous system, which all can prevent you from falling asleep.
A higher body temperature signals the body that it’s time to be awake. If you’ve ever tried to sleep in a hot environment, you know how difficult that can be. It typically takes 30 to 90 minutes before your body temperature starts to fall after exercise, and that decline can even make you feel sleepy. However, you may find that it takes you longer to cool down after exercise.
Also, exercise, especially intense exercise, causes the body to release endorphins, a type of hormone which may keep you awake.
That being said, late workouts don’t automatically lead to sleep troubles. Some people do not experience any negative effect. Others need a few hours to chill out and may not be able to exercise in the evening without consequences. The best way is to experiment to find out how you’ll respond.
Start by taking note of how you typically feel following a workout. If you tend to feel tired once you finish your workout, you should be just fine working out late in the day. However, if you’re the kind of person that gets energized from working out, then you need to plan to your workouts early in the day. Maybe even, first thing in the morning before work.
The type of workout you do also make a difference in how your body responds. You may be able to do low-intensity workouts, like walking, easy jogging or yoga before bed and get to sleep just fine. If that’s the case, you may simply need to save the HIIT workouts for daytime.
If you think you can exercise intensely before bed without any negative effects, just make sure to give yourself at least an hour to relax between the end of your workout and bedtime.
The same idea applies for sports supplements with stimulants such as fat burners and pre-workouts. If you plan on using any, I suggest taking them in the morning, or as late as 6h before your bed time.
I also recommend incorporating activities that relax you at night like taking a warm shower or bath, listening to classical music, reading a book, doing some light stretches. Try not to spend too much time on your electronic devices.
Do something that will help you transition from your workout to your bed.