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Exercise Before Bedtime? - Yes!

Exercise Before Bedtime? - Yes!


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The debate has been around for a long time. To exercise before bedtime or not... that is the question. Many experts say you won't sleep well if you do. But fortunately for those of us who only have time in the evenings to work out, the evidence falls short.

I remember hearing when I first started training 24 years ago (ouch) that I shouldn't work out right before I hit the sack. They said it will mess with sleep.

So I didn't.

And I grew wider.

It turns out that's a great excuse when I'm tired after a long day at work and would much rather slump down on the couch than change into my gym clothes. Watching TV and eating a pizza seems terribly enticing when I'm in that mode.

"If it's going to keep me up anyway, I better not workout tonight."

Brilliant idea.

Fortunately for my waistline I learned pretty quickly that training late at night not only didn't interfere with my sleep patterns, it actually helped. I slept deeper, had less nightmares, and woke up feeling more rested. I even found over time that if I worked out consistently, I actually needed LESS sleep.

So what's up with all the 'advice' everyone gave me? I'm I just the odd duck out?

I started asking around.

It seems there are plenty of studies that show vigorous exercise performed just before bedtime is not conducive to good sleep.

So my next question then is, what exactly does "vigorous exercise just before bedtime" mean? Because if you ask me if I can crash the moment I step out of the gym, well that answer is pretty darn simple. I think I'm going to have a tough time stepping off the treadmill and into my PJ's.

But if I do what most people likely do - I head to the gym for my 45 minute weight and cardio session, go home, eat a small snack and take care of a few things before heading to bed - then I'm going to tell you I sleep like a baby.

It turns out that is not such an unlikely event after all. One study concluded that moderate levels of exercise performed shortly before bedtime did not disrupt sleep behaviors even though there was evidence of elevated body temperature (Physiology and Behavior, 64(3), 213-7, 1998).

So maybe I'm not the odd duck after all... at least when it comes to exercising before bedtime. :)

Author: Kristin Shaffer

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