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Best Time to Exercise for Improved Sleep

Jan 18 exercise and sleep.jpgSLEEP AND EXERCISE are two of the most important elements of a healthy lifestyle, but what happens when these lifestyle factors interfere with one another?

If you exercise routinely and often struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep at night, there’s a chance that your workouts are negatively impacting your ability to enjoy long nights of restorative, satisfying rest. Let’s take a look at what science has to say about the correlation of workout times and sleep cycles, and then you can determine what may work best for your lifestyle.

The Case for Morning Workouts

If you miss a lot of your afternoon or evening workouts because you get too busy doing a million other things and run out of time or energy, then morning workouts may work better.

You get up a little earlier to squeeze in that workout, and then you don’t have to worry about it the rest of the day. This is the best way to ensure that you have time for your fitness routine no matter how hectic your life is or what happens unexpectedly during the day.

Here are some reasonThere are also many other benefits exercising in the morning:

    • Neurotransmitters released during intensive exercise may help you focus and think with greater clarity.
    • The metabolism boost that is believed to come from a good workout may help you burn more calories as you start your day.
    • Some studies suggest that you will fall asleep easier after an early-morning workout. This is likely due to the fact that you must wake up earlier than usual to get that workout in, but that’s good enough if you have trouble falling asleep at times.
What About Afternoon Workouts?

woman working out.jpgThere are some great benefits to working out in the morning, but don’t dismiss the benefits of afternoon workouts. You’re at less risk of an injury during the day because your muscles are warm after other daily activities. Some studies also show that an afternoon workout may help you fall asleep faster and remain asleep for a longer period of time. This is similar to what studies show can occur when you exercise in the morning.

Are Evening Workouts Always a Bad Idea?

If you think that exercise before sleeping is bad, it’s important to note that there are some studies that show benefits to working out in the evening.

One study highlighted by Men’s Health showed that strength-training workouts performed after 7 p.m. helped some people sleep through the night with greater consistency. That study suggests that morning workouts are great for falling asleep faster while later workouts can help you stay asleep all night.

The type of workout that you perform may make a difference here. An intense cardiovascular workout may wake you up too much to promote sleep, but lifting weights or performing yoga may actually help you sleep easier.

Take Time to Experiment

Science clearly points to early mornings or afternoons as the best time to sleep, but what if that doesn’t work well with your lifestyle? What if you only have time to exercise before bed or you know yourself well enough to realize that getting up an hour early each day isn’t going to happen? Take the information presented here as a clue as to when you should exercise for maximum sleep benefits, and then experiment to see what works well for you.

How do you experiment? Simply commit to exercise at a certain time of day, and then remain consistent for two weeks. Pay attention to how you feel at the end of the experiment rather than the beginning because you may have an adjustment period. For instance, if you’re accustomed to doing your exercise before sleeping, you may feel tired during the day for the first few days when switching to morning exercises. By the end of the two weeks, you may feel energized during the day due to deeper sleep and fewer nights of insomnia.

If your first experiment doesn’t work well, then try something new. Go for a different time of day or switch up the type of workouts that you do at different times during the day. Eventually, you will find a schedule that allows your sleep and workout routines to get along.

In the end, the best time to exercise is the time that works for you personally, since consistency is critical to long-term success.

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