This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation
Tweak your workout time to maximize those zzz’s.
Among its many benefits (decreased stress, weight control, disease prevention, etc.), exercise is important for good sleep. And it turns out that when you choose to work out might your impact sleep. Is it time to change your habits? Find out, below.
Rise, Shine, and Sweat
Morning workouts are usually the best choice for those who want to stay consistent, as getting them done at the crack of dawn prevents you from pushing them aside when you’re hit with the demands of the day. But working out in the early hours has another bonus: deeper sleep at night. In fact, people who work out on a treadmill at 7:00am sleep longer, experience deeper sleep cycles, and spend 75 percent more time in the most reparative stages of slumber than those who exercise at later times that day. Also, if you exercise outdoors in the morning, you're sure to get a daily dose of sunshine, which can help regulate your sleep/wake cycle.
Happy (Workout) Hour
If an early a.m. gym appointment isn’t for you, you’re in luck: Working out in the afternoon has plusses for both your performance and your shut-eye. Because your body is one or two degrees warmer in the afternoon than when you first wake up, your muscles can work more efficiently, so you have a lower risk of injury and will be more adept at completing complex movements (like swinging a tennis racquet or nailing those Zumba moves). Additionally, afternoon workouts—particularly aerobic ones—may even help with overcoming insomnia, causing you to fall asleep quicker and wake less frequently during the night. This may be because exercise raises your body’s temperature for about four to five hours; after that, your core temperature decreases, which signals your body to start shifting into sleep mode.
When Not to Exercise
For the best night’s sleep, most people should avoid strenuous workouts in the late evening or right before bed (that means no 9:00pm CrossFit!). The boost in body temperature that comes with cardio workouts, along with their stimulating nature, might interfere with falling asleep. If you prefer to get in some pre-bedtime movement, try yoga or simple stretching, both of which can help you unwind and relax for a restful night.
(But it's important to note that nighttime workouts don't have the same affect on every single person, so if they're not interfering with your sleep, then there's no need to switch your routine.)