Working Out Before Bed: Is It Good or Bad to Exercise Right Before You Sleep?

Sleeping.com Editorial Team

Working out before bed showing dumbells and clock at night

Nothing much can be added to the benefits of regular, consistent exercising. Improved quality sleep is one of the immense benefits of regular workouts. However, the correct time of day to have your exercises to achieve a good sleep seems to vary.

Evening exercises, for instance, seemed to be shunned because of the misconception that one will tend to stay awake longer before falling asleep. Recent studies, however, have shown that working out before bed could actually improve the quality of your sleep.

In fact, studies have shown that one takes less time to fall asleep than when they have not exercised altogether. The key, however, is to time your exercises before the exact time you intend to retire to bed.

Is It Bad to Work Out Before Bed?

If you wonder whether it’s bad to work out before bed, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, this is a common question, and the answer isn’t always straightforward. However, a few things come into play on whether it is bad to work out before bed.

First, how long should you wait to sleep after working out? Generally, it’s best to give yourself at least 90 minutes to cool down before hitting the sack. This gives your body time to recover from physical activity and helps to prevent insomnia.

Additionally, it’s essential to consider what type of workout you did. For example, if you do a high-intensity exercise, it’s probably best to avoid working out too close to bedtime. However, if you do a relatively low-key workout, it shouldn’t impact your sleep.

Best Exercise Before Bed

Apart from perfect timing, the type of exercise you undertake is also crucial in ensuring you have a good night’s sleep.

Slow to moderate-intensity workouts are best recommended. Mind-body routines are also highly encouraged. Best exercises to do before bed include:

  • Walking
  • Stretching
  • Yoga
  • Leisure biking
  • Leisure swimming
  • Tai Chi

Generally, these exercises seem to work for most people. However, if you find that a particular practice makes you stay awake for longer hours, you should consider trying out a different routine.

Bad Exercises to Do Before Bed

While exercise before bed benefits your bedtime health, experts argue that engaging in the wrong exercise can negatively affect your sleep.

Studies show that engaging in vigorous activity before sleep eventually leads to a poor sleeping routine. In addition, heavy workouts cause elevated heart rates and temperatures, which ultimately take longer to stabilize.

Your body needs to relax and eventually shut down to fall asleep. Intense workouts have a counterproductive effect on this natural process. Among the exercises to avoid include:

  • Heavy weight lifting
  • Sprinting
  • Intense Cardio
  • Jumping Rope
  • Competitive Swimming
  • Competitive Cycling.

How Long Should You Exercise Before Bed

Experts argue that the best time to exercise for sleep should be less than 30 minutes. Conversely, working out for more than 30 minutes will be strenuous for your body leading to more recovery time.

Evening workouts can be longer if undertaken hours before bedtime. In fact, you can undertake more vigorous exercises if you take this route and still be able to sleep well.

How Many Hours Before Bed Should You Exercise?

After exercising, your body needs time to recover from a workout, and going to bed immediately after exercising can make it difficult to fall asleep. So how long should you wait to sleep after working out?

Most experts recommend waiting at least an hour and a half after working out before trying to sleep. This gives your body time to cool down and begin the process of recovery.

It also allows your mind to wind down so that you’re not still thinking about your workout when you’re trying to drift off to sleep.

Of course, everyone is different, so you may need to experiment to find the ideal amount of time between working out and sleeping for you.

But in general, giving yourself a 90-minute window will help you get the most restful night’s sleep possible.

How Else Can You Have a Good Sleep

Apart from exercising light, several other factors might be affecting your night’s sleep. Here is a guide to what you could do to improve your sleep.

Maintain a Strict Daily Routine

A consistent sleep schedule is essential for quality sleep. When you keep a regular sleep schedule, your body’s internal clock knows when to sleep and when to wake up.

This can help you feel less tired during the day and make it easier to fall asleep at night. A regular sleep schedule can also help you avoid jet lag if you travel frequently.

Establishing a bedtime routine can also help you wind down before bed and signal to your body that it’s time to sleep. You’ll be more likely to get your body’s quality sleep when you keep a regular sleep schedule.

Eat Small Meals or Snacks Before Bed

Eating lighter meals or snacks before bedtime can help you fall asleep more quickly and sleep more soundly through the night. 

Eating a heavy meal can keep you awake for longer. When your stomach is digesting a big meal, it can keep you awake.

Related Reading: Eating Before Bed: Is It Good or Bad to Eat Before Bed?

Avoid Daytime Naps

Most people love taking a daytime nap. There’s nothing like getting some extra shut-eye, whether a quick power nap in the afternoon or a more prolonged snooze on the weekend.

However, did you know that napping during the day can actually lead to sleepless nights? That’s because napping can disrupt your body’s natural sleep cycle. When you take a nap, your body instinctively wants to go into a deep sleep.

Deep sleep is meant for nighttime, not daytime. As a result, you may feel dizzy and disoriented when you wake up from your nap. This can make it difficult to fall asleep at night, leading to a restless night.

Avoid Blue Screen

Devices like your phone and television have a blue screen. Unfortunately, the blue light from these screens can actually disrupt your body’s natural sleep cycle.

When looking at a blue screen, your brain gets confused and thinks it’s daytime. As a result, you may find it more difficult to fall asleep at night.

Cut on Stimulating Drinks

Most people know that drinking caffeine can make it tough to fall asleep at night. But did you know that cutting back on caffeine can make a difference?

It takes about six hours for half of the caffeine you consume to leave your body. So if you have a cup of coffee at 4 pm, there will still be enough caffeine in your system to keep you up at 10 pm. That’s why it’s best to cut back on caffeine starting in the afternoon.

There are plenty of other drinks that can help you sleep better. Herbal tea, warm milk, and even water can promote drowsiness and help you drift off to sleep.

Benefits Of Exercise Before Bed 

Exercise before bed benefits your sleep in many ways. First, it reduces anxiety, helping you to fall asleep quickly. When your mind is racing, it can seem impossible to relax and get the rest you need. 

Exercise releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. In addition, it helps to lower cortisol levels, a stress hormone that can interfere with sleep.

Secondly, the quality of your sleep will increase significantly. This is because the amount of time in deep sleep will improve. Deep sleep is the phase of sleep that gives you the rest needed to rejuvenate the body.

Third, exercising in the evenings leads to one sleeping for more extended periods. Many people are unable to maintain a long sleep throughout the night. This, in return, leads to one feeling tired all the time.

Finally, evening exercise helps with insomnia and other sleeping conditions. A light workout before bed can help relax your body and mind, making it easier to fall asleep.

Tips to Falling Asleep Faster

  • Keep your bedroom as dark as possible. Keeping the bedroom dark can trick our bodies into thinking it is time for sleep.
  • Pray or meditate. Praying or meditating can help quiet your mind and ease worries or stressors that may keep you up at night.
  • Unwind on the positives of the day. This simple practice can help to shift your focus from the stresses of daily life and allow you to drift off to sleep with a sense of peace and contentment.
  • Take a bath right before going to bed. Taking a hot shower can help calm your nerves leading to a relaxed mind. A peaceful mind is essential in ensuring you fall asleep quickly.

Takeaway

Is it good to work out before bed? Yes, exercising right before bed can have plenty of benefits that help you get a better night’s sleep. From reducing anxiety to increasing the quality of your sleep, there are plenty of reasons to add some exercise to your bedtime routine.

The type of exercise will depend on you and what works best for your body. For example, some people may find that a light yoga session is perfect for winding down before bed. Others may prefer cycling more.

The important thing is to find what works for you and stick with it. Then, with a regular exercise routine, you’ll be on your way to getting the best sleep of your life.

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