Home / Blog July 02, 2024

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Is It Bad To Workout At Night?

In this blog, we discuss whether it is bad to workout at night. We share the benefits of exercising a few hours before bed and some potential downsides to lookout for.

 is it bad to workout at night

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Benefits of nighttime exercise depend on your energy levels and bedtime proximity.

Opt for gentle pre-bed activities like yoga to relax, improve sleep, and avoid disruptions.

Consider sleeping with a weighted blanket post-exercise to promote restorative rest. 

Did you know?
Evening exercise can leverage your body’s natural temperature drop, enhancing performance!

Picture this: it’s midnight, the world outside is quiet, and you’re debating whether to hit the gym or hit the hay. Although this seems like a tough choice at first, there are several tips you can consider to find what’s best for your body. In this blog, we discuss the science between exercise and sleep and share the benefits and downsides of working out at night

Let’s dive in!

Should You Exercise At Night?

Here are some considerations to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to exercise at night:

1. Sleep Quality: Exercising too close to bedtime can interfere with sleep quality. Vigorous physical activity increases heart rate and body temperature, which makes it harder to fall asleep. If you find that exercising at night disrupts your sleep, move your workouts to earlier in the day.

2. Energy Levels: Some people find that exercising in the evening helps boost energy levels and relieves stress accumulated throughout the day. If you feel more energized and motivated to exercise in the evening, then working out at night is suitable for you.

3. Type of Exercise: The type and intensity of exercise also influences whether it’s suitable for nighttime workouts. Gentle activities like yoga or light stretching are less likely to interfere with sleep compared to high-intensity workouts.

4. Schedule Constraints: If your schedule only allows for workouts in the evening, then exercising at night may be your only option. In these cases, it’s better to prioritize consistent exercise, even if it means working out later in the day.

If you choose to work out in the evening, it’s essential to consider certain factors. In the following section, we explore the optimal timing for exercise in relation to bedtime.

How Many Hours Before Bed Should You Exercise?

How Many Hours Before Bed Should You Exercise?

Generally, it’s recommended to complete high-intensity workouts, which elevate heart rate and body temperature, at least 2-3 hours before going to bed. This allows time for your body to cool down and for adrenaline levels to decrease, minimizing the risk of sleep disruption.

Low-intensity exercises, such as gentle stretching or yoga, can be done closer to bedtime, even within an hour of going to bed, as they are less likely to interfere with sleep. However, it’s necessary to listen to your body and adjust your workout timing based on personal sleep patterns and preferences.

Next, let’s take a closer look at how exercising can help you sleep.

Benefits Of Working Out Before Bed

While working out before bed may not be ideal for everyone, there are some potential benefits to consider:

1. Stress Reduction: Exercise, particularly moderate-intensity aerobic activity, reduces stress and anxiety levels. Engaging in physical activity before bed provides a calming effect for most people, alleviating the stresses of the day and promoting relaxation before sleep.

2. Better Sleep Onset: While vigorous exercises close to bedtime can disrupt sleep, engaging in light exercises facilitates sleep onset. Physical activity dissipates excess energy and tension, making it easier to transition into sleep. Research from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests that regular physical activity can help regulate the sleep-wake cycle and promote deeper, more restful sleep.

3. Metabolism Boost: Some studies advise that exercising before bed helps boost metabolism and facilitates fat burning during sleep. However, the effects may vary depending on factors like exercise intensity, duration, and your basal metabolism rate (BMR).

4. Muscle Recovery: Light exercise before bed aids in muscle recovery and repair during sleep. Gentle stretching or low-impact activities can alleviate muscle tension and promote flexibility.

5. Appetite Regulation: Other studies have shown that exercise can help regulate appetite hormones, like ghrelin and leptin. Exercising before bed may help curb late-night cravings and promote healthier eating habits.

6. Mental Clarity and Focus: For some people, engaging in physical activity before bed can help clear the mind and enhance mental focus. This is especially beneficial if you find it difficult to unwind or experience racing thoughts before sleeping.

7. Enhanced Mood: Exercise triggers the release of endorphins, which are neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) that promote feelings of happiness and well-being.

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8. Time Efficiency: Working out before bed can be a time-efficient way to incorporate physical activity into your day, especially if you have a busy schedule or limited opportunities for exercise earlier in the day. It allows you to maximize your time and make the most of your evening hours.

9. Establishing a Relaxing Routine: Incorporating exercise into your evening routine can help signal to your body that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep. Pairing physical activity with other relaxing activities like reading, taking a warm bath, or practicing mindfulness can further enhance this effect.

If you’re exploring ways to improve your sleep, sleep aids like weighted blankets can be a helpful option to consider. Our Cotton Napper, for example, applies gentle pressure that promotes relaxation, aiding in deeper sleep naturally. This can be particularly beneficial if you’ve exercised before bedtime and are finding it difficult to fall asleep.

Benefits Of Working Out Before Bed

Disadvantages of Working Out At Night

Here are some potential downsides of hitting the gym too close to bedtime

1. Disruption of Sleep: Exercise increases adrenaline and heart rate, making it harder to fall asleep immediately after a workout. This can disrupt the natural sleep cycle, leading to poorer quality sleep.

2. Body Temperature Regulation: Exercise raises body temperature, which is counter to the body’s natural cooling process that occurs during sleep. Cooling down after exercise may take some time, making it difficult to fall asleep while still feeling hot and sweaty.

3. Increased Alertness: Exercise releases endorphins, which make you feel more awake and alert. This heightened state of arousal may interfere with your body’s ability to relax and prepare for sleep.

4. Potential for Muscle Soreness: Intense workouts before bed may lead to muscle soreness or stiffness, which could make it challenging to find a comfortable sleeping position.

5. Timing of Post-Exercise Meals: Eating a meal too close to bedtime, which might be necessary after an evening workout, can disrupt sleep by causing indigestion or acid reflux. This is likely because food digestion still goes on as we sleep.

Everyone’s response to exercising before bed will vary. Some people may find that it doesn’t affect their sleep at all, while others may experience significant benefits or disruptions. It’s important to experiment with different workout times to find what works best for you.

Conclusion

Whether you choose to work out before bed or not depends on your personal preferences, schedule, and how your body responds to evening exercise. While there are potential benefits to exercising at night, like stress reduction, improved sleep quality, and convenience, it’s essential to pay attention to how your body reacts and adjust your routine accordingly.