a woman exercising before sleep

Exercising Before Sleep: Is It Healthy?

Finding the time we need to fit in exercising and nourishing our body in a physical sense is challenging. The hustle and bustle of our daily lives takes up most of our day. This is why some of us opt for bedtime exercises. Night owls even prefer it. The looming question of health still revolves around exercising before sleep. Running, Pilates, lifting weights or simply riding a bike – it doesn’t matter. The implication is that such physical activities increase our core body temperature, heart rate and stimulate glands that secrete adrenaline. These are all good things – after all that’s why we do exercise. Is it a good thing to do exercise before bed or are we getting swindled by our bodily reactions? Let’s find out.

Exercising before sleep - late, or too late?

The answer to the question this article asks is a matter of nuance. The bodily reactions mentioned previously have mixed effects. If bedtime exercise gets you on edge, creating a gap of couple of hours between exercising and going to bed is probably the way to go. This allows your body to naturally normalize the parameters affected by physical activity. This isn’t gospel however. A study done in 2011 concluded that exercising 35 minutes before bed had no adverse effect towards getting to sleep. Additionally, MDs suggest that doing bedtime exercises (or exercising at any point during the day) is beneficial to the quality of sleep in a vast majority of people. Adverse effects happen only for a small amount of people, usually that already have medical conditions that prevent excessive physical activity. The conclusion is that pros definitely outweigh the cons when it comes to doing exercise, regardless of the time of day. However, we are all individuals and should cater to the specifics of our body and mind.
an image of a couple exercising before sleep

Tips for falling asleep

Enjoying bedtime exercises is a great thing, but if we are hot and sweaty – falling asleep is not meager task. Some tricks and tips are good to have in your arsenal if you don’t plan to twist and turn a couple of hours before falling asleep:

Showers – Taking a cold shower is a great way to regulate increased body temperature. Don’t overdo it, a quick power-shower no longer than a couple of minutes long should do the trick. This trick works with fevers and even more so in this regard.

Cooling down – Gradually reducing the amount of physical stress provides a natural way to transition from high activity to dormancy. Abruptly stopping physical activities is unhealthy because it shocks your body. Such aggressive transitions can create adverse effects towards your respiratory system, muscles and organ activity. The best way to avoid these side-effects is to gradually reduce the amount of physical tension by stretching out or doing easy, basic exercises to cool yourself down.

exercises before sleep

Aromatherapy – Some oils such as lavender or passionflower extracts are great for calming your mind after a long workout. The mental calmness is equally important to your physical state. For some it is even more important.

Respect your bedroom – If able, avoid working out where you sleep. The mental association of your bedroom with sleep is essential in nurturing such a mindset. More importantly, you will avoid the bodily smells associated with physical activity.

Meditation/yoga – Great for stretching out if conventional exercises are something you don’t want to do. Meditation and yoga teaching are great for regulating your heart rate and adrenaline levels. Find a pose you prefer and try focusing on your breathing – it is crucial for the effect you are looking for.

an image of a woman exercising yoga

Conclusion

If you are a healthy individual with a strong desire to be physically active – bedtime exercises are something you shouldn’t avoid. The benefits are there to reap. Sleeping patterns will improve, the quality of bedtime will increase and your stress levels will be lowered. Experiment with time, intensity and variety of both your exercises and ways to fall asleep. It is all about finding what works for you, don’t be afraid to try different approaches. Good luck!

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