The study also reveals that cycling leads to a great night of rest.
Does working out before bedtime have an impact on your sleep quality? A new study conducted by Concordia University revealed key findings regarding physical exercise and its relation to sleep. Through their research, Concordia University was able to determine the optimal time to work out.
Sleep fitness is a growing market, with health trackers replacing traditional watches and increasing demand for sleep apnea devices. The search to achieve the best sleep possible can mean big business when it comes to the wellness industry. Eight Sleep even developed the world’s first smart sleep mattress with Alex Rodriguez and Kevin Hart as fans and investors. A 2021 market report noted that lifestyle changes and fitness trackers with sleep quality features have led to a greater awareness about the health benefits of sleep.
Everyone agrees that sleep is imperative to health, but the Concordia University study wanted to dive deeper. The researchers wanted to explore a possible connection between the time a person chose to work out and their sleep quality. The results were pretty straightforward.
“Overall, our analysis showed that when exercise ended two hours before bedtime, there were sleep benefits, including the promotion of sleep onset and increased sleep duration,” says Emmanuel Frimpong, a postdoctoral fellow at the Sleep, Cognition and Neuroimaging Lab. “On the other hand, when exercise ended less than two hours before bedtime, sleep was negatively impacted. It took longer for participants to fall asleep, and sleep duration decreased,” Frimpong, lead author of the study, shared.
The Concordia University study also revealed that working out in the early evening at a high-intensity pace will promote sleep onset and duration, especially if a person is generally sedentary. It also uncovered that certain physical activities, like cycling, benefited participants most in terms of onset of sleep and quality of rest. Experts say that high-intensity workouts may result in fewer dreams. High-intensity activity is thought to lead to a slight decrease in the rapid-eye-movement (REM) stage, which is most commonly associated with dreaming.
So when is the ideal time to work out in the nighttime? Frimpong says workouts should be performed in the early evening for maximum benefits and that it’s essential to keep a consistent exercise schedule to prevent sleep disruptions. It’s also imperative to take note if you are a morning person or a night owl, as natural early risers may face sleep troubles if they engage in high-intensity exercise late in the evening.
Frimpong pointed out that people should have a nightly ritual to unwind before hitting the pillow, like enjoying a warm cup of decaffeinated tea or meditation.
“Lastly, sleep hygiene strategies should also be carried out, such as taking a shower between the cessation of exercise and bedtime and avoiding eating heavy meals or drinking a lot of water before going to bed,” Frimpong advises.
The sleep market size is expected to reach revenues of $137 billion by 2026.
Courtney Rehfeldt has worked in the broadcasting media industry since 2007 and has freelanced since 2012. Her work has been featured in Age of Awareness, Times Beacon Record, The New York Times, and she has an upcoming piece in Slate. She studied yoga & meditation under Beryl Bender Birch at The Hard & The Soft Yoga Institute. She enjoys hiking, being outdoors, and is an avid reader. Courtney has a BA in Media & Communications studies.