Exercise is a very important part of a healthy lifestyle, but so is sleep, which means a proper balance must be maintained.
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Achieving this balance can be tricky, though, especially for people who don’t have the time or inclination for morning exercises. This is because there is a common perception that mornings are the best time for exercising and doing it in the evenings will disrupt your sleep.
However, there is a stronger link between not exercising and trouble sleeping than there is with what time you exercise. Everyone has different levels of motivation and energy, as well as unique schedules, so these must be factored in when determining the optimal time of day for working out.
Why Working Out Helps You To Sleep Better
Although not everyone agrees on the best time of the day for exercising, at least there is no disputing the fact that working out is beneficial for sleep. Due to the amount of physical stress that exercise places on your body, the brain in turn increases the time spent in deep sleep.
It has also been found that the increase in body temperature during exercising and subsequent drop afterwards leads to a feeling of drowsiness. In fact, a 2013 poll revealed that people who exercise vigorously suffer from less sleep problems and are managing to have a good night’s sleep more often than those who do not exercise.
Stress is one of the things that leaves a lot of people tossing and turning at night, and working out is a known stress-reliever.
Figuring Out What Is The Best Time For You To Exercise
Work, family, and other obligations all influence when we are able to exercise, which can make it tricky to find the perfect time. No matter what time of day you pick to exercise, however, it is important to stay consistent.
Doing so is less strenuous for your body and also makes it easier to reach your fitness goals. While most people prefer to exercise in the mornings, it doesn’t mean that other times of the day are less efficient, as each have their own pros and cons.
Working Out In The Mornings
For people with busy schedules an early morning workout typically works best. Getting your exercise done early means you won’t be putting it off if the rest of your day becomes too busy. It is also a great way to boost your mood for the rest of the day and allows you to face challenges with a more positive outlook. As exercising boosts your endorphin levels you will also feel more alert in addition to feeling good.
Obviously, morning workouts are not ideal if you are not a morning person, as it will be harder to remain motivated enough to keep up a regular routine. Morning exercises also require you to thoroughly warm up first before doing any intense routines, or you could injure yourself.
Of course, you are not doing your sleep cycle any good if you struggle to wake up early enough to exercise or continue to feel sleepy during working out. Instead, opt for a different time to exercise if your schedule permits and you’ll not only feel better, but also sleep better.
Working Out In The Mid-Afternoon
Because a higher body temperature results in more flexible muscles there are plenty of benefits to a mid-afternoon workout session. You’ll have less risk of muscle stiffness and sprains because your body temperature will have increased throughout the day. Additionally, you’ll be improving your productivity and mood with a mid-day workout.
The downside, of course, is that not everyone can get to the gym or fit in a workout session during a lunch break. Even if you are lucky enough to get away you will still have to figure out whether to eat before or after your session.
Other responsibilities can also conflict with your exercise schedule during this time of the day, which can make it hard to stick to a consistent routine.
Working Out In The Evenings
People often avoid evening workout sessions because they believe that it will interfere with their sleeping patterns. This is because increased body temperature, heart rate and adrenaline levels can make it harder to fall asleep. However, research into this subject has found that this does not always have to be the case.
Evening workout sessions allow you to blow off some steam when you’ve had a tough day, and you usually don’t have to rush things as you might in the mornings or afternoons when time is precious.
Getting your exercise done in the evening also means your mornings will be less hectic and you can get a bit more sleep in. While it is true that high intensity workout sessions directly before bed can negatively impact your sleep, moderate-intensity exercises won’t have the same effect.
Not everyone is influenced in the same way, though, as studies have shown that even with vigorous late-night exercise some people experience no disruption to their sleep quality.
Unfortunately, working out in the evenings means that there is a great chance for distractions or procrastination. Evenings are the time when most people want to head to the movies, clubs or restaurants to unwind and not the gym.
Even the television can seem like a much better way to spend the evening than exercising after a long day at work. These factors can make it harder to stay motivated and stick to your exercise schedule.
The Ideal Time Is The One That Works Best For You
The best way to figure out when to exercise while still getting a good night’s sleep is to keep track of what works best for you. What works for a friend might not work as well if you try it, so finding the perfect time will often come down to your own personal preference.
If you are a morning person who loves to be up at the crack of dawn, getting your exercise done early means you’ll be rested by the evening and can enjoy a good night’s sleep. On the other hand, if evenings are the only time that you have to work out, you will still enjoy better sleep than those who don’t exercise at all, provided that you don’t overdo it.
It might require some trial and error to find a good time to exercise that not only fits your schedule, but your sleep routine as well, but once you do, you’ll definitely reap the benefits.
With regular exercise you’ll be able to sleep longer and wake up less frequently during the night, which means better rest. This in turn means you’ll have more energy during the day for working out. The bottom line is that some exercise is much better than none, regardless of when you do it.