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Sleep vs Exercise

by Alexandra Parren

Running At Night Sundried Sleep Exercise

“I can’t exercise late or I will be up all night”. True or False?

Today we examine whether this is training fact or fiction. It is a widely held belief that if you exercise late in the evening or at night, you won't be able to sleep because of the endorphins released. But is this true or not?

Myth: You can’t sleep after exercise

Most people's theory behind this myth is that the adrenaline rush from working out will keep you up for hours after a workout. It’s commonly believed you should avoid training before sleep like you would avoid caffeine. Throughout the day, our body temperatures go up naturally and then fall back down at night. Our decreasing body temperature signals to the brain it’s time to go to sleep, which explains why we can stay up for hours on end on our holidays and yet in winter we are ready for our PJs within hours of our last mouthful of dinner.

Exercising raises your body's temperature as heat is a by-product of the aerobic training system. After training, the body’s temperature can be raised by as much as 2℃ and this rise in body temperature can take up to 5 hours to drop back down depending on the intensity of your workout. So, does this mean that because you are warmer you won't be able to sleep?

Fact: Exercise helps sleep

Research by The Journal of Sleep found that vigorous exercise late at night made no disturbance to the length or quality of sleep. Some participants exercised vigorously for 35 minutes before they slept and some did no exercise at all. The results found that the participants slept just as well when they were rested as they did when they had trained.

Another study by The National Sleep Foundation found that exercise is actually good for sleep. A poll found that 83% of people said they slept better when they exercised even if it was late at night. They came to the conclusion that exercise was good for your sleep no matter what form of exercise was done, when, or how. Researchers believe physical activity improves sleep by helping to reduce levels of stress and anxiety.

As long as you can fit it in, anytime is a good time to exercise and it should help you get to sleep as well. If you have difficulty sleeping, there's a good possibility that exercise isn't the culprit. Consistency is key with both sleep and exercise; if you get your body into a routine you will sleep better and feel more refreshed when you wake. 

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