Will Working Out Before Bed Ruin Your Beauty Sleep?

Working out before bed can negatively affect your sleep if you do a heavy workout right before bed. It’s better to do a light to moderate workout 90 minutes before bed for optimal sleep. 
working out before bed

The research on the effects of working out before bed has studies in a lot of areas. The problem I have found with this particular topic is the amount of variance from person to person. Many of the studies I went through are for individuals who follow a typical sleep schedule.

I spent a solid week looking through studies on this topic to find the most important information to help answer this question. The answer above is true for many people, but for others, it depends.

This article will go over how exercise relates to your ability to sleep, the best time(s) to exercise depending on who you are as an individual, and the type of exercises you can do if you do want to work out before bed.

Read on to learn more.

Working Out Before Bed – How Does Exercise Affect Sleep?

Exercise has different effects on our ability to sleep depending on many factors. When we exercise, our heart rate, adrenaline, core body temperature, and brain activity all increase. 

There are several studies on this topic. Many have come to the conclusion that working out before bed does not affect sleep at all. Some even suggest that exercising before bed will help you sleep. 

Many studies suggest that it is best to avoid high intensity exercises before bed. It is better to do light to moderate exercise before bed. It took longer for individuals who had engaged in high intensity exercise to fall asleep and stay asleep. [1] Another study also determined that a high intensity workout done an hour before bed impairs sleep onset latency, total sleep time, and sleep efficiency. [2

A light to moderate intensity workout seems to be the most helpful for aiding sleep. Coupling the workout with a shower 30-60 minutes before bed should prevent sleeping difficulties. [3]

Early evening exercise done 4 hours before bedtime improved sleep for young adults, but otherwise did not have any detrimental effects on sleep. [4

Overall, the studies show that light to moderate intensity exercises did not impair an individual’s ability to sleep. This was under the condition that the individual exercises 90 minutes before bed.

Working Out Before Bed – Best Time to Exercise?

It is interesting to note that there is a best time of day to exercise. This is due to the way our circadian rhythms operate. Basically, it’s about body temperature. Our body temperature is highest in the afternoon, and thus functions as a passive warm-up. [5] This does not mean to skip the warm up before a workout. It simply means that our body performs better with a higher core temperature.

Now while there is a best time of day to exercise, this is not the case for everyone. There is no one universal time for everyone to exercise. Those who happen to be a night owl will have different circadian rhythms compared to those that go to sleep and wake up at the hours that most people do. Other contributing factors can be a person’s age and health conditions they may have. [6] The key is looking at the effects of working out before bed no matter what the individual’s schedule is.

The typical circadian rhythm of the average person helps determine the best time of day to exercise. This is why for those who tend to be night owls, evening exercise may be the equivalent of an afternoon workout for said individuals. The peak of their circadian rhythm occurs later than those who are not night owls. Keep this in mind when deciding the best time of day to do your workout.

If planning to exercise for a short duration of less than a minute, then afternoon exercise seems to be the best time to do so. [5] Between the hours of 4PM and 8PM, studies showed that performance for the vertical jump and sprinting improves during this time frame. 

The afternoon also seems to be the best time for high intensity cardio workouts. [3] Aerobic exercise in the afternoon allows for the release of melatonin. [6]

Early evening is the best time for weight training. [3] Many studies seem to have the same conclusion of avoiding higher intensity workouts too close to bedtime. The most common suggestion is if you are going to be working out before bed, do so at least 90 minutes before bedtime for best sleep results. 

The most important thing is that while these are guidelines, you want to choose an exercise schedule that works for you. Be consistent with it to get the best results.

Working Out Before Bed – What Type of Exercise to Do?

Experts recommend light to moderate working out at least 90 minutes before bed. Avoid high intensity exercise before bed to prevent sleep and reduce awakenings in the middle of the night.

For adults, it’s best to get at least 150 minutes of exercise per week. [5] That’s about 30 minutes a day spread out over 5 days. Try to get a combination of moderate intensity exercises as well as high intensity exercises for best results. Getting regular exercise will allow you to get the most sleep benefits. Again, it is important for the individuals to determine their workout plans. 

Here are some examples of light to moderate exercises:
(These are okay to do 90 minutes before bed)

  • Stretching
  • Yoga
  • Walking
  • Bike Riding (not too fast)
  • Swimming
  • Light Weight Lifting 
  • Meditation (My Favorite)

Here are some examples of heavy/vigorous exercise:
(Do these in the morning, afternoon, or early evening for best results. Avoid doing these before bed, especially if you have insomnia)

  • Heavy Weight Lifting
  • Jumping Rope
  • Jogging
  • Running
  • Sprinting
  • Intense Cardio/Circuit Training
  • Swimming Laps


Whether or not working out before bed affects your sleep all depends on you. It’s generally agreed that it’s best to avoid heavy exercise 90 minutes before bed, but that’s just a guideline. Some studies say you need more time between the workout and bed. Other deciding factors are your daily schedule, age, and health conditions.

You may have to experiment to find out if working out before bed will affect your sleep. For some people, it doesn’t affect their sleep at all. For others, exercise before bed helps them sleep. Then there are some who have negative impacts on their sleep from exercising beforehand.

If the possibility that exercising before bed will affect your sleep in a negative way worries you, it’s best to try and schedule your workouts earlier in your day to be safe.

Donald Wilson

Donald Wilson

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