What Is The Best Time To Exercise For Optimal Sleep

Good workout + good sleep = healthy mind, body, and soul

Did you know that when you work out can make a huge difference to the quality of your sleep??? Have you been working out at an hour that doesn't suit your body and energy levels?? Keep reading to find out!


Rise + Sweat!

Getting your daily workout in can be a bit of a challenge. If you're like me and want to stay consistent, your best bet is doing your workout in the early morning, before you have to go to work. I've noticed the longer I procrastinate, the higher the chance of me not doing my workout. Morning workouts help me stay consistent and give me both an energy and mental boost that sustain me throughout the day.


But did you know working out at the crack of dawn also positively impacts your sleep? Yup, it allows you to have a deeper sleep than those who exercise later in the day. In doing so, it helps you regulate your sleep/wake cycle, and that is the foundation of a good day.



For those of you who do exercise in the wee hours of the morning and experience deep sleep at night, this may have something to do with your blood pressure. When you sleep at night, your blood pressure decreases by about 10-20%. This dip is allows for quality, restorative sleep. It is good for your heart. In comparison to afternoon, and evening workouts, morning workouts may trigger a similar blood pressure decrease and that is what helps maximize your zzz's later in the night.


Afternoon


If you love feeling snug in bed in the morning and prefer to sip your coffee and do some reading, then maybe workout in the afternoon. You may not be as consistent with your daily workouts but you may still experience deep sleep at night.


In the afternoon, your body is about 1 or 2 degrees warmer. Your muscles have already eased into the day and so are working more efficiently, thus reducing the risk of injury. You will be able to complete more aggressive and vigorous workouts like Dance classes or HIIT. I for one can't stand either because it looks so painful and tiresome. I prefer running for about an hour because it feels so peaceful. Sorry, I digress. Anyways, afternoon workouts may help those of you who have trouble sleeping and wake up several times at night. This is because of a rise in your temperature. It rises for about 4-5 hours and that then decreases which shifts your body into sleep mode.



But what if you get sleepy in the afternoon? Then the more reason to exercise in the afternoon! Don't nap, it will jeopardize your sleep! Did you know that your body also naturally produces more testosterone in the late pm than any other time of the day? That testosterone is critical for muscle growth and strength and so the afternoon workout may be the optimal time for you to workout. You will have to put in a little more effort squeezing it in though. I know a lot of you want to leave work and just head home and relax after a long day. I can't blame you. I do the exact same thing, which is why I prefer exercising in the morning.


Evening


So, I'm sure you've all heard that working out before bed will make it harder for you to go to bed. BUT, there is new research that suggests the opposite. A study from the Journal Of Sleep Research shows that people who exercise at night felt minimal effects on their sleep quality. As I mentioned, we experience and rise in temperature during our work out but a drop afterward. The decrease in your temperature could still make you sleepy. However, I used to work out at night and I definitely had too much energy to go to bed afterwards and would end up messing up my sleep/wake cycle.


If you find that working out at night is your only option, maybe try doing it 2 hours before bed. That way, the effects won't impact your sleep as much and you'll still be able to catch some zzz's.


When Not to Exercise


To experience some quality zzz's avoid strenuous exercises just before your bedtime. I guarantee you won't be able to get to bed. However, you can still do some light bedtime yoga, or light stretching that can help you unwind and still get a great night's sleep!



Conclusion


At the end of the day, your optimal exercise and sleep schedule depends on you. It's important to find a time that works with your schedule and energy levels. Keep in mind that your muscles will still be cold in the early am and warm in the pm. If you need to work out at night, you may need to try out some different times to find what works best for you.


What time do you enjoy working out? Let us know in the comments!


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