Contrary to popular belief, there is no reason to avoid workouts in the evening. A new study conducted by the Institute of Human Movement Sciences and Sport at ETH Zurich has shown that sleep before bedtime won’t disturb sleep and that avoiding exercise in the evening won’t improve your sleep quality. The results were published in the journal Sports Medicine.
How Was the Study Conducted?
The scientists went through the literature about exercise before bed and analyzed twenty-three studies from the past. They found out that, contrary to popular belief, exercising four hours before bedtime doesn’t have a negative impact on sleep. One of the authors of the study, Christina Spengler from ETH Zurich, says that if pre-bed exercise has any effect on sleep, that effect is positive and not harmful. By further analyzing the literature and studies from the past, researchers found out that when subjects had exercised in the evening, they spent almost 22% of their sleeping time in deep sleep. Without working out in the evening, the time spent in deep sleep dropped to 19.9%. The difference seems small, but it’s statistically significant. Deep sleep is essential for physical recovery.
Intensive Training Late in the Evening
Although mild training has a positive effect on sleep, intense workout one hour before bed will disturb sleep. This is the only type of exercise that may have a negative impact on sleep. It also has to be done very close to bedtime. It’s also important to mention that the observation that intensive training in the evening may disturb sleep is based on one study.
If you are not sure what intensive training is, it can be defined as training in which an individual is unable to talk. Moderate exercise is of intensity high enough that a person would no longer be able to sing, but they could still speak. Competitive athletes and other sportsmen often perform vigorous training, but it’s rarely performed by common folk. Workouts such as more extended running or riding a bike are considered moderate. Intensive training may disturb sleep because one doing it one hour before bed doesn’t give your body enough time to recover.
Possible Sleep Problems are no Excuse
According to doctors, we should do at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week. If you are wondering whether or not to exercise in the evening because you didn’t have enough time during the day, you should definitely go for it. Dr. Jan Stutz from the Spengler’s research group and lead author of the analysis claims that moderate exercising won’t cause any sleep problems, even if you end your training session 30 minutes before bedtime.
It is also important to know that every person is different and that some of us may react differently to late evening exercising. You should always listen to your body, and if you notice having problems falling asleep after doing sport, definitely try to work out a little earlier. Exercising during the day is known to improve sleep, and we also know that working out in the evening, at least, doesn’t have an adverse effect.
Co-founder of Counting Sheep and Sleepaholic