There are all kinds of health benefits to exercise, including improving heart health and relieving aches and pain. Working out can also ease anxiety, boost your mood and affect sleep, something some of us are struggling with these days. And according to the National Sleep Foundation, certain times of the day are better for exercising to help you get a good night’s rest.
So when is the ideal time for a workout to give us the best sleep? The foundation explains, “An early morning sweat session may provide the ideal blood pressure reduction, as well as maximize deep sleep, compared with midday or evening workouts.” And it all comes down to cortisol - a hormone that regulates how alert you feel. It typically peaks around 8am and drops in the evening, so getting your physical activity in the morning is more in harmony with your body’s hormones.
But if you’re not an early bird, working out in the afternoon is good. The sleep foundation suggests trying to do it four or five hours before bed since your body temperature rises during exercise and needs enough time to go back down before you fall asleep. They explain that because exercise also increases heart rate and stimulates the nervous system, it may be better to avoid working out too hard late in the day. And if you prefer evening exercise, less strenuous activities, like yoga, pilates, or stretching may help relieve stress and still help you fall asleep easily.