Can’t sleep? Don’t give up your workouts

Can’t sleep? Don’t give up your workouts

The relationship between sleep and exercise is complicated. Conventional thinking is that you’ll sleep better after a hard workout, but that may not be the case, scientists say.

According to research published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, the sleep benefits you may experience from exercising don’t happen right away. You may hit the treadmill in the afternoon, but you’ll sleep better long-term, rather than that same night.

The study shows that a 16-week exercise program, combined with better sleep habits, helped people with insomnia sleep longer and better than those who worked on sleep habits alone. The study also showed that poor sleep can lead to less exercise.

Sleep is one of the best ways for the body to recover from a tough workout, so you want to make sure that if you’re working out, you get plenty of sleep for your muscles and tissues to rebuild.

When it comes to sleep and exercise, timing is everything, says Dr. Adam Rubinstein, an internal medicine physician with Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill. “Exercising in the morning can help you feel more alert, increase your metabolism and energize you for the day, but hopping on the treadmill before bed can result in a poor night’s sleep.”

The benefits of regular exercise when it comes to sleep are many, even among those who don’t suffer from insomnia. According to the National Sleep Foundation, “Self-described exercisers report better sleep than self-described non-exercisers even though they say they sleep the same amount each night (6 hours and 51 minutes, average on weeknights).”

The message of the study reinforces this. When it comes to sleep and exercise, both help each other out. So rather than thinking about how your exercise might give you a good night’s sleep, consider that a good night’s sleep may help you exercise better the next day. 

Need a good night’s sleep? In addition to regular exercise, you can try these tips from the National Sleep Foundation:

  • Maintain a regular bed & wake time schedule, including on weekends
  • Create a sleep-conducive environment that is dark, quiet, comfortable and cool
  • Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows
  • Finish eating at least 2-3 hours before your regular bedtime
  • Avoid caffeine close to bedtime

Related Posts


Subscribe to health enews newsletter

About the Author

health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.