Sleeping is the most important part of the day as everybody should know, and it’s an important period of time for the body to recover and regenerate ahead of the next day, so we should do everything that we can to make sure we get a good nights sleep.
Being active on a regular basis is good for improving the quality of our sleep, but sleep hygiene educators consistently discourage people from exercising within the last three hours before bed, stating that it encourages a poor nights sleep.
However there isn’t substantial evidence to support these claims, and it’s giving people the wrong idea about exercise. Plus, what if the only time that you can attend the gym is between tea time and bed time, is exercise off the to do list, and does nighttime exercise really disturb our sleep so badly as they claim?
The answer to both questions is no. In fact the research most often finds the opposite of claims, in that night time exercise can be good for sleep. Whilst people who exercise in the morning tend to report the best quality sleep and wake up feeling the most refreshed, the people who exercise in the evening still feel like they get a good deal, reporting better quality sleep on the days that they exercised at night compared to no exercise at all.
Therefore exercise really doesn’t disturb sleep for the most of us, of course we’re all different so there will be a few exceptions. But the message is not to avoid exercising at night because someone told you it would be bad, especially if this is the only time that you can exercise! Instead do some trial and error and find a time that works best for you.
Faye Prior (Researcher)
Buman et al., (2014). Does nighttime exercise really disturb sleep? Results from the 2013 National Sleep Foundation Sleep in America Poll. Sleep Medicine, doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2014.01.008.