Exercise has many benefits, including weight control, decreased stress, disease prevention, and it can even improve our cognitive functions. But did you know that being active is also essential for getting a good night’s sleep?
The thing is, it’s not just about doing exercise, you also need to plan out the best time for it, as timing could have an impact on how you sleep. So, do you need to change your habits?
We take a closer look at how exercise affects sleep and when is the best time to workout and get a good night’s rest.
Exercise and sleep
An important consideration for sleep quality is exercise. Research has shown that if you are more active during the day, you will enjoy better quality sleep. The more incidental and planned exercise you do during the day and the higher your levels of physical activity, the more soundly you will sleep, the fewer sleep disturbances you will have, and the more refreshed you will feel upon waking.
Therefore, if you are currently experiencing poor sleep and not moving your body enough, consider clearing your daily schedule and making some time to exercise.
Best time to exercise
Any time is a good time for exercising. However, if you are experiencing problems sleeping, the moment you work out could impact the quality of your sleep that night, according to a study from the Appalachian State University.
The study participants who worked out at 7 am fell asleep faster than those who skipped a workout or exercised during the afternoon or evening. However, participants that worked out at 7 pm reported a better night’s sleep than participants who exercised in the morning or those who didn’t work out at all.
The conclusion seems to be that if you are having trouble falling asleep, then you should aim for a morning workout, but if your difficulties lie in staying asleep, then you should plan an evening workout.
Exercising in the mornings will mean that you will probably be adjusting your sleep cycle, as you are getting up earlier to hit the gym. That change in your sleep scheduled coupled with burning calories first thing can help you fall asleep faster, according to lead study author Scott R. Collier, Ph.D., F.A.C.S.M.
However, according to Collier, exercising at night will increase your body heat and relax your muscles, which creates a thermal effect that isn’t unlike a warm bath. The thermic effect, coupled with muscle fatigue, will assist in you sleeping more soundly and preventing you from waking up once you’ve fallen asleep.
Make your workout work for you
To reap all the benefits exercise has to offer, the key is consistency, meaning that the best time of day to exercise is the one that most works for you, and the one you stick to on a regular basis.
For some people, working out in the morning works best, as it’s something you do first thing in the day. However, if you find yourself hitting the snooze button on more than one occasion, perhaps evening sessions are more your thing. Don’t get discouraged, and try moving your workout by 30 minutes at a time until you find something you can stick with.