It is important to find time for exercise on a daily basis, and for many this means squeezing in a workout early in the morning, or even late at night, just before bed. However, many people have difficulty sleeping if they exercise too late in the evening. If you are one of these, you might be reacting to the increased adrenalin and cortisol that result from strenuous activity, which can make it extremely difficult to fall asleep. In that case you should avoid intensely exercising within three hours of bedtime so you have adequate time to wind down. Research suggests that many people will sleep better if they exercise, even if that exercise is done in the evening, as late as an hour or two before bed. If your lifestyle is such that you can only exercise at night, you should find ways to improve your chances of sleeping well. Sleep and exercise are equally important for your health, so the trick is to develop a routine that optimizes both. Here are some tips.
- Listen to Your Body
Even if you’re only exercising once or twice a week, you shouldn’t blame yourself for getting tired quickly. Instead of blaming yourself for being out of shape, take the cues your body is giving you. When you’re tired, your body is demanding rest and nutrients to rebuild your muscles and energize you. Although your workout might have been what pushed you over the edge, there are high chances that are you’re neglecting your body before you even hit the gym.
- Have a High-Protein Bedtime Snack
People who drank a protein shake before hitting the sheets usually experience a greater increase in muscle strength than those who didn’t. That’s because in your body, protein breaks down into amino acids, which build up your muscles. Since most of us consume protein only with meals, there typically aren’t many amino acids available overnight for muscle growth. That basically means your body’s prime recovery hours aren’t being used to their full potential. To get the most muscle-building power while you sleep, try a protein-rich snack like Greek yogurt or a turkey roll-up.
- Sip Sleep-inducing Brews
You already know you should avoid caffeine in the evening, but why not take things one step further by sipping something that will increase drowsiness? Try chamomile tea or a sleep smoothie to drift off with ease. Good sleep nutrients include vitamin C, potassium and magnesium. You can choose anything from leafy greens, avocados, cherries and strawberries to counter deficiencies in these nutrients.
- Turn In a Little Earlier
When you get more quality sleep your motivation to work out skyrockets. Sleep affects people’s perception of how hard exercise is. If you’re tired, your brain may try to convince you to save your resources by hijacking your good intentions to visit the gym or by making your workout feel unusually difficult once you’re there. All you have to do to regain your motivation is get to bed a little sooner. Just 30 minutes should be enough to increase your drive to exercise the next day.
If you’ve been burning the candle at both ends, exercise might be quite impossible. If you’re spending your nights studying, or working instead of sleeping, you’re depriving your body and this can make you feel even more tired after a workout. Try to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep a night to allow your muscles to rest and rebuild.