One of the benefits of exercise overall is improved sleep quality, but it’s typically recommended that you not exercise within three hours of bedtime so you have adequate time to wind down.
If your regular bedtime is midnight, then exercising in the evening, at 9 p.m., for instance, should theoretically not interfere with your sleep (although admittedly this schedule is pushing the limits of your body’s natural circadian rhythm).
New research is suggesting, however, that exercise as little as 1.5 hours before bed may not interfere with your sleep either and, in fact, might help you sleep better.
Strenuous Exercise at Night for Better Sleep?
The study followed 52 19-year-olds who played sports for up to 90 minutes in the evenings, ending about 1.5 hours before their usual bedtime. Those who reported more exertion during the sports fell asleep faster, woke up fewer times during the night, and slept more deeply than those who exercised less vigorously.1
The students who exercised with higher levels of exertion also reported increased tiredness, less hunger, and better mood at night. The researchers concluded:2