Fact or Fiction: Evening exercise disrupts sleep?

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

sleeping girl
Exercise apparently helps you sleep much easier at night… even if you do it shortly before bedtime!

It’s not an uncommon practice to rise up early in the morning and start the day with a heart-pumping workout. After all, morning exercise has been shown to strip off the last bits of sleep and provide long-lasting energy for the day. If we do this same activity at night, though, would that same force keep us tossing and turning all night long? It’s time to tackle this myth once and for all.

When we take a look at what goes on inside the body during a workout, it appears that this myth is laced with some truth. In order to power through a heated workout, the body breaks down energy reserves and dumps them into the bloodstream. Well, we need oxygen to extract that energy appropriately, so our breathing quickens to take in the necessary air. Finally, the heart picks up the pace in order to distribute the energy molecules and oxygen throughout in a timely fashion. Let’s not forget all the hormones (chemical messengers which travel through the bloodstream) used to keep the process in a state of excitement.

With this in mind, it’s no wonder morning workouts energize people through the day, and according to research, it also helps individuals achieve a deeper sleep! Yep, apparently that’s true regardless of the time of day the exercise occurred. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 83% of people who reported working out at some point during the day had no trouble finding a good night’s rest compared to those who didn’t exercise at all. A separate study discovered that some could knock out a mere 35 minutes after heart-pumping activities.

Now, there are a few people who are left buzzing after a nighttime jog and find it difficult to sleep. According to experts,  the answer is as simple as keeping some space between your workout and bedtime.

Featured image courtesy of Nathan Rupert. Image of sleeping girl courtesy of Pedro Ribeiro Simões.