I used to think that doing exercise at any time was useful for your body. I always enjoyed working out when everyone was asleep because it made me feel at peace. While exercise has its benefits, if you are exercising close to when you sleep, it can negatively affect sleep quality. Since you need enough sleep to have appropriate recovery following any strain put on your body, exercising before sleep would have more side effects than benefits for your body. But, assuming people with muscular dystrophy do not exhaust themselves and take time to recover, exercising can boost sleep performance. In this blog, I will explain why exercising close to bedtime is detrimental and summarize studies that demonstrate exercise benefits for sleep at appropriate times.

Harvard Medical School’s “Does Exercising at Night Affect Sleep” speaks of studies that found how high-intensity exercises an hour before bedtime results in poorer sleep quality. Additionally, Sleep Foundations “What’s The Best Time of Day to Exercise for Sleep” explains how giving the body enough time to let your body temperature and endorphin levels return to normal promotes a solid foundation for sleep. Exercise activates the sympathetic nervous system resulting in a raised blood pressure, higher heart rate, increased blood circulation, and stimulates adrenaline and other hormones making it difficult to sleep. If I exercise before going to bed, I feel full of energy and no longer feel tired. However, if I time it appropriately, I feel tired before sleep and get exceptional sleep quality. For me, I believe it is best to give yourself an hour and a half without exercise. During this time, I stretch, roll out, use a lacrosse ball to reduce tightness, meditate, and use a breathing technique. These things help activate the parasympathetic nervous system, and after I complete these activities, I find it easy to fall asleep. 

The same article from Harvard Medical School found that twenty-three studies found that evening exercises helped people fall asleep faster and spend more time in a deep sleep. This was when a vigorous exercise did not occur in less than an hour before sleep. This study proves that regular exercise at any time of the day is good for sleep performance when it is not too close to sleep. To see meaningful benefits food sleep Sleep Foundation’s article states that one hundred and fifty minutes of exercise throughout the week guarantees significant benefits to sleep. Additionally, some studies have shown that regular exercise reduces sleep disorders like insomnia and sleep apnea, displaying the benefits of healthy exercise habits. When it comes to when you should exercise, it is based on preference and your day’s scheduling. I like working out in the evening at around 6-7 o’clock but will also do some cardio exercises earlier on in the day. I tried to work out when I woke up, but I do not feel up to that in the morning. It is up to you to determine when you should work out, but make sure you do something every day to keep your muscles active.  

Exercising is critical to a healthy lifestyle, and if it is used correctly, it can promote sleep quality, guaranteeing that you feel alive. As you exercise, it will improve your organs, your body’s health, blood circulation, and recovery from stress. Every day you should do some form of exercise and make sure you keep yourself moving. Not only will your body feel great (assuming you prevent yourself from exhausting yourself), but the processes within the body will function at optimal levels. Ensure you exercise at appropriate times and give yourself enough time to relax before falling asleep. REMEMBER, at least one to two hours before sleep should not include vigorous exercises as exercise will not have positive effects.