Like many, being a parent means exercising at night is the only option for us most of the time as the hussle and bussle of evening bedtime routine with the kids can often take a little longer than anticipated. I'm sure you can relate to this. However, I'm not alone when I recently asked myself if working out before bed time was actually any good for me. In this post I hope to answer this question so others thinking similarly can hopefully move on and stop looking for excuses that might be preventing them working out in the late hours :)
Negative Impact On Sleep
I think there used to be a misconception in the past that working out before bed time was bad for sleep as the stimulation of exercise combined with the increase in body temperature would have a negative impact on your sleep pattern as it would take you longer to fall asleep due to your body being wide awake.
Luckily for us, the Gods have spoken (sarcasm). Sleep experts from the National Sleep Foundation carried out a poll in 2013 and concluded that people who exercise any time of the day actually sleep better and feel more rested than those who don't exercise at all. No surprises there then I hope :)
Barbara Phillips who works for the University of Kentucky within the Sleep Medicine Unit was involved in this study and states "The timing of exercise ought to be driven by when the pool's lap lane is open or when your tennis partner is available... or when you have time to get away from work, not by some statement that has never been validated," - You Go Girl!
We finally have some common sense in the matter... We live very busy lives these days especially if you have little dependants ruling your schedule. Therefore, for many, including myself, a spot of exercise just before bed time is probably one of the most convenient times to fit this activity in. I hope this answers any concerns you may have had and you can now carryout your workout knowing that you are only benefiting from it. However let me give you some pointers to bear in mind which I've experienced myself :
- Make sure you have a good one or two hours of cool down time before going to bed to make sure you're not going to cramp up in the middle of the night. Believe me, I've been there from time to time jumping out of the bed when my calf suddenly goes into cramp overdrive!
- You may feel very hungry after your workout so keep an eye on how much you eat especially if you are going to go to bed soon afterwards as this may impact on how effective you are at falling asleep.
- Take a warm shower before going to bed as this starts the tired feeling and slows down your system prior to sleep.
- Warm down accordingly otherwise your muscles will become more sore because you didn't give enough time to exercise them out and thus may take a while for the lactic acid to be worked out of them
Therefore, to conclude on this debate, the general consensus is, in my opinion, If working out at night works for you, JUST DO IT - pun intended :)