When we think of working out we only think of morning, afternoon, and night. We never think of workouts right before bed. The reason we don’t think of any fitness before bed Is that you are trying to unwind from your day. For many, waking up at the crack of dawn and heading to the gym for an early morning workout Is a sure way to start the day right. After all, It’s the “early bird” that gets the worm, right? Then there are people like me that have no choice but to workout at night because of work, school, or even just life stuff. It works out because I am a night owl. Night time workouts don’t work If you’re not a night owl like me. If It weren’t for at home workout programs (yes I do all of my workouts at home and at night), I would never have set foot on a treadmill or pick up weights – and I know I’m not alone.
That’s why It can be frustrating that working out late at night tends to get such a bad rap. Common wisdom suggests that the combined effects of exercise – Including an Increased heart rate, higher body temperature and a boost In adrenaline and cortisol levels – are a recipe for disaster when It comes to getting a good night’s sleep. But what about those of us who work odd hours and can only keep a late gym date – or those who, like me, simply prefer to live – and exercise – by night?
Some experts say a mid-day workout Is optimal since It can prevent an afternoon energy slump and Increase productivity. Exercising too close to bed, other researchers warn, could be linked to nightmares or night sweats. However, If It’s more convenient to go to the gym after work, there’s a case for the nighttime workout, too. A growing body of research has shown that evening exercise does not negatively Impact shut-eye and In fact, sleep quality Improves for some athletes. The Proof Is In the numbers: The National Sleep Foundation surveyed 1,000 adults about sleep and exercise habits. Ninety-eight percent of them said their sleep quality remained the same or Improved on workout days, even after night sessions.
Better Late Than Never
It turns out, the effects of working out before bedtime aren’t quite as cut and dried as some might think. The best workout time generally varies from person to person. So some people might enjoy working out early In the morning, some In the afternoon and then believe It or not there are a lot of people who workout at night. I can workout at night and go to bed shortly after. There may be some people who won’t have any problems, However, If the person already has trouble going to sleep, exercise In close proximity to bedtime may worsen the problem. Because we all know that when we workout we release endorphins that make you feel good kind of stuff.
While working out can make you feel physically tired, mentally, you may be revved up. In addition, there may be higher amounts of cortisol or adrenaline In your body which may inhibit sleep. However, both cortisol, a steroid hormone, and adrenaline, which Increases blood flow to muscles, sugar levels and output of the heart, only take roughly an hour to regulate and get back to normal. In addition to moderate aerobic and strength exercise, even HIIT is on the table: Research showed that subjects slept just as well on nights when they vigorously exercised as they did on nights when they did not exercise at all.
Some believe exercising near bedtime can adversely affect sleep and sleep quality, no major differences were seen In sleep quality between those who had performed “vigorous and/or moderate” exercises within four hours before bedtime. There was a study done where It Included 1,000 participants from the United States, found that 17 percent of people who exercised within four hours before bed enjoyed “very good overall sleep quality”, with 59 percent having a “fairly good” night’s rest. Meanwhile, 22 percent of people who exercised more than four hours before bed had “very good” sleep quality, with 58 percent experiencing a “fairly good” rest.
Overall, the study found that 83 percent of “vigorous exercisers” reported very or fairly good sleep quality, regardless of the time of day they chose to work out, compared to 56 percent of non-exercisers.
Time to Unwind
Did you know that working out at night Is compared to taking a warm bath right before bed? “Just like your body cools off post-bath, making you feel sleepy, a post-workout cooling may also help to set the stage for sleep,” I suggest experimenting with working out at different times of the day (If you can) to see what works best with your Individual sleep patterns. Everyone’s sleep patterns are largely dictated by genetics. Morningness and eveningness depend on one’s circadian rhythm, And one’s circadian rhythm, or natural 24-hour body clock, Is largely dictated by genes that are Inherited.
Environmental factors, such as lifestyle choices and work schedule. those who do prefer to work out late at night should give themselves at least an hour to cool down before going to bed and to try to get at least seven hours of sleep per night and keep regular hours. But ultimately, when It comes to night owls and exercise, the best motto to live by might be “better late than never”.
If you are a night and owl, If you can only workout at night, or maybe you want to try different times of day to workout here are some tips for you.
Vary workouts (running, gentle yoga) and times (two hours or 30 minutes before bed) to see how they’ll affect your slumber. Play around with the duration and the Intensity to find out what Is best for you.
Fitbit, Apple Watch, Samsung Gear, and the S+ Sleep Tracker (which sits on your nightstand) can track sleep quality and duration so you can compare your rest on workout and non-exercise nights.
At night, write down how you exercised and how you felt. In the morning, record how well you slept (based on tip two above.)
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