Should You Work Out Before Bed?

Is working out before bed bad for your nighttime rest? Can evening exercise lead to insomnia? Is there an optimal time of day to work out? Get-Fit Guy answers your questions.

Ben Greenfield
4-minute read
Episode #184

Should You Work Out Before Bed?However, for most people, exercising close to bedtime doesn't appear to adversely affect sleep quality. One 2011 study found that people sleep just as well on nights when they exercised for 35 minutes directly before bed as they did on nights when they didn't exercise before bed. In addition, the National Sleep Foundation's 2013 "Sleep in America" poll found that 83% of people who exercised at any time of day - including late at night - reported sleeping significantly better than those who didn't exercise at all. Only a tiny 3% of “late-day” exercisers reported sleeping worse on days when they exercised, compared to days when they didn't.

So ultimately, it appears that the pros of exercising later in the day outweigh the cons. However, if you are someone who has a difficult time sleeping if you exercise close to bedtime, you may want to try the following Quick and Dirty Tips:

5 Tips to Sleep Better After a Workout

  1. Take a cold shower after your exercise routine to bring your body temperature back down more quickly. Try about 550 or cooler, for 2-5 minutes.

  2. Do a gradual cool-down after your workout rather than abruptly stopping while you’re still huffing and puffing, or hopping into your car or into the shower all hot and sweaty.

  3. Should You Work Out Before Bed?Don’t exercise in the bedroom. While I’ve certainly given you plenty of ideas for home body-weight workouts, try to save the bedroom for sleeping or other bedroom-appropriate activities, such as intimacy, curling up with a good book, or meditation.

  4. Try deep breathing or meditation after your workout or before bed. Meditation can lower cortisol and adrenaline levels. Check out my article on deep breathing, or try the free meditation and mindfulness app from Headspace.

  5. Use natural calming supplements and essential oils in moderation. Try lavender oil on your pillow or in an air diffuser in your bedroom, as well as passionflower extract, magnesium powder, or kava kava. My fellow Quick and Dirty Tips podcast host, the House Call Doctor has some other good anti-anxiety tips which can help you if workouts late at night make you anxious or adversely affect your sleep.

If you have more questions about whether you should work out before bed, then join the discussion over at Facebook.com/GetFitGuy

Running at night image courtesy of Shutterstock.


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own health provider. Please consult a licensed health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.