Exercise has a profound impact on the quality of sleep. The recommended amount of weekly exercise is two and half hours but there’s loads of deliberation about when is the best time to exercise to have the greatest effect on the quality of your sleep.
Rise and shine
Exercising first thing is a sure-fire way to stay consistent. Getting your workout done in the morning prevents you putting it off when the day gets too busy or you lose motivation. And if you exercise outdoors in the morning, you’re going to get your daily dose of sunshine, which can help regulate your sleep cycles.
But if you’re not an early bird and the afternoon suits you better, then this has its own plus points, both for performance and sleep. Your body is two degrees warmer in the afternoon meaning your muscles work more efficiently and lowers the risk of injury. Aerobic work outs (like cardio) can help ease insomnia because following exercise you’ll be tired, fall asleep quicker and wake up less frequently during the night.
When not to exercise
For a great night’s sleep, it’s best to avoid strenuous exercise in the evening right before bed. Cardio increases your body temperature and also suppresses melatonin. It’s melatonin that sends a signal to the brain that it’s time to start winding down and getting ready for sleep, so exercising right before bed will leave you feeling more stimulated and awake. Not ideal! If you prefer to get in some pre-bedtime movement, try yoga or simple stretching. Both of these can help you unwind and relax for a restful night.