Exercises Before Sleep: A Guide
There’s a general agreement that ideal time for exercises is any time you feel like it. But, for people that have trouble sleeping, the time of the workout can affect their sleep quality. Someone who exercise in the morning will fall asleep faster than someone who do it in the evening. However, people who do their workout in the evening sleep better than people who don’t exercise at all, but they also sleep better than people who exercise in the morning. The main question that occurs is, are there some types of workout that could actually make you sleep better?
For the beginning, let’s see are late night workout sessions harmful for your sleep? We believed for a long time that late night exercises increase our heart rate and raise our body temperature. They also increase the production of adrenaline and cortisol, which are not really ideal for sleeping. Or so we believed.
Well, the latest studies prove the opposite. People who did some workout before going to sleep had the same quality of sleep as they had on nights they skipped the workout. It looks like that during the hour following our workout the level of stimulating hormones drops tremendously, which puts us into sleepy state.
Now, we wonder if there’s a way to increase the merits of workout without harming the quality of our sleep. There are some exercises that will help your muscles relax and get your metabolism active for long after you fall asleep. The best thing is, you don’t need to hit the gym for these. All you need is a bit of space and good will.
"Easy" bodyweight exercises
Your body temperature rises with exercise and then drops with your post-exercise cool down, which actually helps you fall asleep. This usually takes about an hour or so. If you can’t time your HIIT workout, run, or regular strength training session to end an hour before bedtime, stick to light bodyweight exercises.
- Start with the sit ups. Start with lying with the back on the floor, with the arms across the chest or hands behind the head and the knees bent in an attempt to reduce stress on the back muscles and spine, and then elevate both the upper and lower vertebrae from the floor until everything superior to the buttocks is not touching the ground.
- Instead of sit ups you can do crunches. A crunch begins with lying face up on the floor with knees bent. The movement begins by curling the shoulders towards the pelvis. The hands can be behind or beside the neck or crossed over the chest
- Next you can do some leg raises, to alleviate tightness in your hips and get you breathing methodically. You can do the laying ones. Lie on your back, legs straight and together. Keep your legs straight and lift them all the way up to the ceiling until your butt comes off the floor. Slowly lower your legs back down till they’re just above the floor. Hold for a moment. Raise your legs back up. Repeat.
- Lunges are great too. Stand tall with feet hip-width apart. Engage core. Take a big step forward with right leg and start to shift weight forward so heel hits the floor first. Lower body until right thigh is parallel to floor and right shin is vertical (it’s okay if knee shifts forward a little as long as it doesn’t go past right toe). If mobility allows, lightly tap left knee to ground while keeping weight in right heel. Press into right heel to drive back up to starting position. Repeat on the other side.
Make sure you do it within an hour before bed. Just be slow and deliberate; don’t get your heart rate up too high immediately before bed.
Lie down in bed or sit so your spine is straight, and your trunk is grounded. Take a deep, slow, sustained breath that starts at the bottom of your diaphragm; this is called belly breathing. Focus on filling your stomach so it sticks out, then let the oxygen expand from the bottom of your chest cavity up toward your throat, so your lungs are the last to rise. Inhale for three counts. Hold it for two. Then, exhale slowly for four. You want the exhale to be longer than the inhale. The most important thing is to do this while your mind is relaxed. You don’t want to deep breathe while watching television or checking email.
Anything that opens up and releases your most-stressed joints is conducive to sleep. Stretching your hips and back—two of the most worse-for-wear areas on a guy—are particularly important
8. Bridge: Lie face up with knees bent, feet flat on floor, arms extended by sides, palms up. Keeping shoulders down, engage abs and press into heels to lift hips and back to form a diagonal line from shoulders to knees. Hold for 8 to 10 breaths; lower.
9. Seated Side Bend: Sit on pillow in a cross-legged position. Place left hand on floor to side of hip, left elbow slightly bent. Extend right arm by ear. Lean to left, keeping butt on floor, shoulders down. Hold for 8 to 10 breaths. Switch sides; repeat.
10. Rag Doll: Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Place right hand on left elbow, left hand on right elbow. Bend over from hips, letting arms and head hang down.Hold for 8 to 10 breaths. Gently roll back up.
Contrary to the popular opinion, not all exercises are bad for sleeping. As a matter of fact, it really depends on type of the workout you’re doing. It’s also important not to overdo it and go into a tempo which will kick start your organism into full awake mode. There are types of workouts that help you sleep better if you do it some hour before hitting the mattress, like light body-weight exercises, breathing, yoga, and stretching. Applying some of these pre-bedtime routines, or even all of them, you’ll keep yourself healthy but you’ll also sleep well.