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Evening exercise does not affect sleep

a woman doing evening exercise outdoor as the sun sets

Credit: BigStock

You have probably been told not to exercise in the evening as it will affect your sleep quality. Now researchers from the Institute of Human Movement Sciences and Sport at ETH Zurich have found that evening exercise does not negatively affect sleep.

The study concluded that exercise in the four hours before sleep does not have a negative effect on sleep.

The researchers conducted a systematic review with the aim of investigating the extent to which evening exercise affects sleep and whether variables such as exercise intensity or exercise duration will have an impact. They analysed 23 eligible studies in which the researchers compared studies evaluating sleep after a single session of evening physical exercise with no-exercise control in healthy adults. All analyses are based on random effect models.

Combining all the data from the different studies, the researchers found that doing exercise in the evening did not have a negative effect on sleep quality. They found that after doing some sports in the evening, the participants spent 21.2 per cent of their sleeping time in deep sleep compared to participants who did not exercise in the evening with an average of 19.9 per cent in deep sleep. While the difference seems small, it is statistically significant as deep phases of sleep are important for physical recovery.

The study concluded that exercise in the four hours before sleep does not have a negative effect on sleep. However, the researchers also found that there was an exception to the rule and vigorous training within an hour of bedtime may have a negative effect on sleep. According to the analysis participants who completed an intensive training session before bedtime took longer to fall off to sleep. In this case the participants did not recover sufficiently from the intensive exercise and their hearts were still beating more than 20 beats per minute faster than their resting heart rate.

Exercise during the day is known to improve your sleep quality and now researchers have shown that evening exercise does not negatively impact your sleep.

Source: Sports Medicine


Meena Azzollini

Meena is passionate about holistic wellbeing, alternative healing, health and personal power and uses words to craft engaging feature articles to convey her knowledge and passion. She is a freelance writer and content creator from Adelaide, Australia, who draws inspiration from family, travel and her love for books and reading.

A yoga practitioner and a strong believer in positive thinking, Meena is also a mum to a very active young boy. In her spare time, she loves to read and whip up delicious meals. She also loves the smell of freshly made coffee and can’t ever resist a cheesecake. And she gets tickled pink by anything funny!