Do Evening Workouts Disrupt Your Sleep?
The reasons people skip evening workouts are plentiful. Most people put off that 7:00 PM exercise bike session because they fear the increased heart rate will make it harder to sleep. For anyone with a busy lifestyle, the evening hours usually mean dinner with family and a chance to spend time with the kids – so that weight bench will have to wait until tomorrow morning.
For these reasons and many others, the bottom line is that evening workouts are frowned upon – and disruptions in sleep patterns (both real and imagined) are a big reason why. But is it OK to burn evening calories and still sleep soundly? Contrary to popular opinion, a recent Reuters article suggests so.
Researchers at Arizona State University found that evening exercisers slept just as well as those who skip nighttime workouts. Early morning exercisers, according to the study, slept better than everybody else.
This research is in direct contrast to the National Sleep Foundation’s recommendations. The NSF doesn’t say that evening workouts are adverse to optimum sleep, but the organization generally suggests relaxing, low-level activity, such as yoga or meditation.
The biggest gap in sleep quality was between early-morning exercisers and those who didn’t exercise at all. Overall, 88% of those early-bird bikers reported sleeping well, compared only 44% of couch potatoes. Researchers concluded that the best thing to do is get physical activity, period – regardless of it occurs in the early AM hours, during lunch or well into the evening.
The big message to take away from the study: don’t fear the evening workout. “Sleep recommendations suggest avoiding exercise prior to bed,” said Matthew Buman, lead author of the study from Arizona State University in Phoenix. “We found evidence to the contrary suggesting that individuals need not avoid exercise at night.”
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