What is the best time of day to exercise? Is a morning workout better than an evening workout? What exercises can ease sleep transition? And – always interesting – where can you find motivation for an evening workout? Looking for sincere answers to all these questions? Well, look no further.
Within the next few minutes you will have all of that information plus a scientific explanation about why we sleep, how much sleep we need and how exercises affect sleep quality. Also you’ll find 8 tips to sleeping better and three evening workout videos with detailed performance technique.
The main takeaways here will be: the answers you need, better sleep and three, one minute, relaxing evening workouts
Sounds interesting? Good! Let’s start with figuring out
When Should You Exercise? Morning Workout vs Evening Workout
This depends primarily on two factors: your daytime schedule and what wellness goals you want to achieve with that particular workout.
As we agreed in ‘Truth or Dare: Ten Killer Facts You Need to Know about Motivation in Sports (and Life)’, even a short exercise session is better than none, so if the only time at your disposal is 9-00–9-30 pm, go ahead and treat your body to moderate intensity exercise (we will define this term below). If you can’t wake up at 6 am to go jogging without hating everyone around you and thinking only about a double shot of hot espresso, perhaps you should consider an evening workout as a better option. If you have the luxury of choosing any time, presumably you will prefer the time when the gym is less crowded and when you feel the most energised.
For sure, if your beloved ones are all at home at early evening waiting for you to join the family dinner, maybe it is better to sacrifice your evening exercise routine and get up early next day instead. On the other hand, if you are taking your first baby steps on the slippery road to a healthy lifestyle, and trying to change some habits, a half an hour cardio workout could distract you from sitting in front of TV with a takeaway pizza.
And that is good.
Regarding your fitness goals- here things are slightly more complicated. We should consider a few key factors to ensure you get maximum payback from your workout. Firstly, the best time for a weight loss workout – as well as for a weight lifting workout – is whenever you have time for it. Early morning, afternoon or late evening – pick your fave, just be sure to warm up enough before any advanced level routines.
If your primary goal is to lose weight, the key is to exercise whenever you can
If your goal is to stay fit and energised, please consider cardio workouts in the morning or afternoon, and save the evening for a relaxing workout before sleep. The time of your workout matters when it comes to sleep. We will explain why very soon.
What is recommended for everyone who sits at work (raise your hands if you are not an ultra sitter!- not many?) is to spend a few minutes completing an easy evening workout which stretches all your muscles, releases lower back muscles and elongates your spine. We promise, you will feel refreshed and energised after it. Take a look at the video below : it demonstrates a very simple and effective The Roll Down Pilates exercise
This super exercise (yup, just one single exercise) helps you stay energised to handle your evening plans even after all-day work.
The performance technique:
Take a deep inhale and pull your abs in to spine. While exhaling put your chin to chest and smoothly and carefully roll down, vertebra by vertebra, trying to relax all your body. Look at this rolling down as the way you remove the wallpaper. Remain hanging passively for a few seconds and while exhaling roll up, bone by bone, stretching your spinal column out and holding your bellybutton close to spine.
This exercise beautifully elongates your back muscles and, therefore, ensures they are in balance, preventing muscle stiffness and lower back pain.
Hopefully, now you have enough energy to keep reading and learn about
Exercise and its Effect on Sleep
A headline: regular day time exercise of any intensity has a serious effect on improving sleep quality, increasing total sleep time and decreasing awake time.
This means that a 10 min walk after lunch, aone hour aerobic class or a weight lifting session all equally improve sleep quality. But, if you exercise immediately before going to sleep, you will sleep better if you choose a moderate intensity workout over a high intensity exercise routine.
Let’s clear up the terms “moderate intensity exercises” and “high intensity exercises”.
According to the Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity & Health by WHO (World Health Organisation), moderate-intensity physical activity requires a moderate amount of effort and noticeably accelerates the heart rate, while high intensity (or vigorous-intensity) physical activity requires a large amount of effort and causes rapid breathing and a substantial increase in heart rate. Examples of moderate-intensity exercise include brisk walking, walking domestic animals and… traditional hunting.
Examples of vigorous-intensity exercise are running, walking up a hill, fast cycling and aerobics. To simplify the difference, you burn 1 calorie while sitting quietly, 3 calories while performing moderate intensity activity and 6 while performing high intensity exercise. Of course, the intensity of activity depends of an individual’s previous exercise experience and their relative level of fitness.
The first scientific research on the effect of exercise on subsequent night sleep was carried out in 1966 by Baekeland and Lasky. In their study, 10 physically fit college students were required to participate in either afternoon exercise, evening exercise, or to do no-exercise.
Following this research the authors highlighted three key observations that have repeatedly been confirmed in later studies:
1. A single bout of exercise can increase the amount of subsequent SWS – slow wave sleep – that is believed by some scientists to play an important role in cerebral restoration in humans during sleep process.
2. Exercise shortly before going to bed can also produce a stress effect that can reduce the amount of subsequent SWS (that’s why you shouldn’t opt for late evening cardio if you have problems with sleep).
3. Habitual exercise may increase SWS. That means, you should definitely welcome exercise to your day-to-day life.
A recap: for better sleep, be active during the day and perform moderate intensity workouts before going to bed
Don’t worry if you do not feel like hunting. We can safely substitute that with a relaxing evening workout 😉
We now answer one of the most burning questions about sleep:
Do You Need 8 Hour Sleep?
Can you imagine a single person in modern society who doesn’t ask himself that question? We can’t. The answer, however, may vary with context. For some people this question is about a real problem: they can’t sleep at night and wake up tired. That is the price we pay for late work shifts, the overuse of mobile devices and socialising with friends till 2 am.
For others, looking for a solution results in various experiments: for example: going to bed at 9 pm and waking up at 3 am, taking a nap after lunch or abusing caffeine.
Plus we all are overwhelmed with modern society paradigms like “Sleep is for wimps”( Margaret Thatcher) and “Money never sleeps.” Gordon Gekko from “Wall Street”. So you probably feel guilty when you sleep till 8 am and silently envy those lucky fellows, who can wake up fresh and energised at 6 in the morning.
We are here to cheer you up.
There is no evidence that getting up early and going to bed early gives you more wealth at all. There’s no difference in socioeconomic status. The only difference between morning people and evening people is that those people that get up early in the morning are just horribly smug (look for TED talk “Why do we sleep?” by a circadian neuroscientist Russell Foster for more inspiration).
As for how long do you need to sleep, let’s firstly figure out why we need sleep at all.
Why Do We Sleep?
There are so many ideas about why we sleep, and the first one that comes to mind is somewhat intuitive: our body restores itself while we are sleeping. The simplicity of this explanation does not diminish the significance of the process.
More than that, some recent researches shed new light on this question. There is a theory that our brain gets rid of waste during sleep. You have probably noticed how you struggle to solve a difficult problem at night and then after a good sleep suddenly come up with a beautiful solution. That’s because sleep is part of the brain’s solution to the problem of waste clearance.
Our brain never rests, while our body is still and our mind is off walking in dreams somewhere, the elegant machinery of the brain is quietly hard at work cleaning and maintaining this unimaginably complex machine. Discover more with TED Talk “One more reason to get a good night’s sleep” by neuroscientist Jeff Iliff.
So we need to spend a third of our lives restoring ourselves and it is pretty shortsighted to ignore this biological need. Try to do so – and chances are you will become irritable, muddled and – surprise – overweight.
The recipe to success is to listen to your body – Russell Foster, TED talk ‘Why do we sleep?’
Yes, there is a direct connection between lack of sleep and weight gain. If you sleep around five hours or less every night, then you have a 50 percent likelihood of being obese. Sleep loss seems to give rise to the release of the hormone ghrelin, the hunger hormone. Be aware of that.
So, how many hours of sleep do you need? As usual, it’s not rocket science. Listen to your body and you’ll get the answer. If you need an alarm clock to get you out of bed in the morning, if you are taking a long time to get up, if you need lots of stimulants, if you’re grumpy, if you’re irritable, if you’re told by your work colleagues that you’re looking tired and irritable, chances are you are sleep-deprived.
We need eight hours of sleep a night. That’s an average. Some people need more. Some people need less. And what you need to do is listen to your body. Do you need that much or do you need more? Simple as that. And now –
Eight Simple Tips to Improve Your Sleep
While there are many factors that negatively impact sleep, there are nearly as many strategies and treatments available that can help. A great start to improving sleep is identifying and addressing the factors that disturb sleep.
Good sleep is more under your control than you might think.- Harvard Medical School
To improve your sleep, try the following sleep tips:
1. Turn off those mobile phones. Turn off those computers. Turn off all of those things that are also going to excite the brain. Read a good book instead (paper copy, not kindle version!)
2. Try not to drink caffeine too late in the day, ideally not after 2 pm.
3. Make your bedroom a perfect place for sleep. Make it as dark as you possibly can, and also make it slightly cool. It is very important to reduce light exposure at least half an hour before you go to bed. Light increases levels of alertness and will delay sleep. Mild night light in the bedroom is the best choice.
4. Chose a comfortable mattress and pillows. You deserve to spend a third of your life in comfort, don’t you?
5. Exercise regularly. As you know, even light exercise is better than no activity. Even 10 min walking can do the trick. Exercise at any time of day, but not at the expense of your sleep. Moderate exercising leads to better sleep.
6. Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual, like a warm bath or listening to calming music. Try a brisk walk before bedtime.
7. Go to sleep and wake at the same time every day, and avoid spending more time in bed than needed.
8. Use your bedroom only for sleep to strengthen the association between your bed and sleep. It may help to remove work materials, computers and televisions from your bedroom.
So by now you should have realised why it is worth doing an evening workout: for better sleep and a healthier you.
As Promised – a Good Selection of Exercises
Add to all the Roll Down exercise and An Evening Workout above, please welcome our personal fave to relieve lower back tension and overcome body stiffness: The Shoulder Bridge exercise
The time needed to perform: 5 -10 minutes for 4 repetitions in 4 modifications
Benefits: releases lower back tension; improves mobility of the lumbar spine; strengthens the buttocks and hamstrings; facilitates controlled, segmental mobilization of the lumbar and thoracic spine in flexion and extension.
Contraindications: stop if you feel any lower back pain or shoulder pain when doing this exercise as well as discomfort or pain in the hips.
The performance technique:
- Start with lying on your back, legs long (pelvis wide), palms upward for a few moments to focus inwardly, to relax and adjust your lower back and pelvis to the neutral position. In neutral pelvis you will feel yourself resting on your right and left sacral bones.
- From your legs being long use your heels on the mat to draw your feet softly about a foot from your sitting bones.
- Open your shoulder girdle, imagine your shoulder blades as wings unfurling and preparing for flight.
- Invite your spinal column to release to elongate even more and reach the crown of your head and the sitting bones in opposite directions.
- Then inhale and stretch your knees forward and lift up your pelvis to draw one line between the shoulders and knees. Do not open your ribs too wide: keep elongation of the spine and neutral lower back!
- Drop your belly button down and then put down your spine bone by bone starting with the thoracic spine and coccyx is the last.
Modification: try with arms stretched backwards: you may find it easier to articulate your thoracic spine. Be sure your upper body is relaxed and you don’t have any tension in your neck!
- For pelvic stability: imagine the pelvis as a bowl of water you don’t want to spill any drop on the right or left side (your iliac bones).
- Use this exercise to improve your performance of the roll up: you can articulate the stiffest part at your lumbar and roll down and up more smoothly for the next time.
- Do it as slowly as you can, still keeping moving all the time. Imagine that you want to count both all your vertebras and the distances between them.
Now take an action:
- Do these 3 evening workouts today and subscribe to our Youtube Channel to stay tuned
- Share this article to those who need it
- Let us know what do you think about this article below in the comment section.
Be healthy, be happy, be fitvize!