Exercise is one of the best, most widely-recommended remedies to beat insomnia. Personally, I can feel my sleep quality dip when I don’t exercise at least three times per week. I treat physical activity and sleep hygiene as related aspects of my overall wellbeing. But there’s one instance when exercise can most definitely hurt sleep quality, and it took me years of sporadic exercising to figure it out.
Simply put, try not to exercise within three hours of bedtime; it’s one of my personal favorite sleep tips. Now, this is a somewhat controversial opinion. There’s some basic evidence to suggest vigorous exercise close to bedtime does not harm sleep quality. However, that same evidence does indicate late night workouts can impact your heart’s rhythm for the first few hours of sleep; it’s uncertain how that impacts recovery and long-term rest quality.
So while some people may be able to get away with it from time to time, I heartily endorse workouts in the morning, after work, or — my personal favorite — lunchtime. If you’re in an urban area, you’d be surprised how many gyms — including yoga studios, indoor spinning studios, and even CrossFit gyms — offer abbreviated lunchtime classes to help busy working folks fit in their fitness.
Plus, working out before your midday meal is a great way to time carb and protein intake for maximum absorption and faster muscle recovery. And it will give you a midday boost that feels longer lasting and more productive than yet another cup of coffee.