We all need sleep, but how much we need varies. And we all need exercise, again how much we need and choose to do varies, and some folk do none at all! But there’s a well known link between the two things and it’s mutually beneficial – as well as all the obvious benefits of exercise, it also boosts our sleep and the better we sleep the more likely we are to want to exercise. People who exercise regularly are upto 67% more likely to sleep well as compared to just 39% of non-exercisers (The National Sleep Foundation), and vigorous exercisers are reported to have less issues with insomnia than moderate exercisers. Exercisers are also wake less frequently in the night and are less likely to feel sleepy during the day.
However, there’s a bit of an urban myth that exercising late at night can be detrimental to sleep, due to the effects of elevated heart rate, body temperature, alertness etc. But contrary to this, studies have found that exercisers have better sleep irrespective of what time they work out. And so much so, that it’s actually thought that if you normally have trouble with sleep, late-day workouts could be your salvation! The thinking here is that after the elevated body temperature achieved during exercise, the subsequent temperature dip post exercise, may actually make you feel drowsy – it certainly does me – when I was marathon training, I had to avoid running in the morning, because it made me quite useless for the rest of the day!
Getting good quality sleep is vital for muscle repair and re-building and also means you have more time, energy and motivation to exercise, so it’s win-win! To reap the benefits of exercise (in relation to fitness goals as well as sleep), consistency is key so stick with your training time, whether it be morning or night.