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Finish all exercise at least 4 hours before bed

Finish all exercise at least 4 hours before bed

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Exercising a few hours before you sleep may actually do more harm than good. High-intensity exercises activate the release of adrenaline and stress hormones like cortisol. This could disrupt your natural sleeping pattern and affect the quality of your sleep.

The solution to this is to finish all your workout routine 4 hours before you go to bed. This effectively gives time for your body to return to normal status.

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Possible Benefits

  • Optimize sleeping pattern
  • May improve mood regulation
  • May improve memory
  • May boost productivity level the next day
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How to Do It

  1. Plan out your exercise schedule. 
  2. Make sure that you have finished all your exercises 3 to 4 hours before going to bed.
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Why it works

High-intensity exercise promotes the release of adrenaline and cortisol, which facilitate your body’s stress response. Your heart rate elevates, blood sugar levels increase, and alertness enhances. All of these things contribute to your difficulty achieving meaningful sleep.

Having a 3 to 4 hours break between finishing exercise and bedtime is enough to have your hormones and stress response return back to normal before sleeping.

When you get a night of optimal sleep, your brain gets better at processing information and consolidating memories. Additionally, good sleep at night prepares your mind to be creative and productive the next day.

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Time Commitment

4 hours before bedtime

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Suggested Frequency

Daily or depending on your exercise routine

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Time of Day


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Possible Side Effects

There’s no side effect in scheduling your exercise routine and sleep

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  • Tone down your activity level at night time. A moderate-intensity workout will provide you all the benefits of exercises without affecting your sleep.
  • Plan out your routine. Knowing that you have done everything you need to do before bedtime provides calmness and ease of mind at the end of the day.
  • Schedule your exercise. A well-timed exercise will allow you to reap all the benefits of an excellent physical activity without interrupting your sleeping pattern.
  • High cortisol levels and adrenaline in the blood during sleep are associated with difficulty achieving REM or deep sleep.
  • Avoid stress a few hours before sleep. If possible, turn off your phones, and avoid answering emails. These will prepare your mind for a good night's rest.
  • If you have no choice it’s better to exercise late then not to exercise at all
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Supporting Studies and Articles

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  1. The exercise-glucocorticoid paradox: How exercise is beneficial to cognition, mood, and the brain while increasing glucocorticoid levels.
    DOI: 10.1016/j.yfrne.2016.12.001
  2. Twenty-four-hour cortisol response to multiple daily exercise sessions of moderate and high intensity
    DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-2281.1999.00157.x
  4. Exercise time cues (zeitgebers) for human circadian systems can foster health and improve performance: a systematic review
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 Happiness  Confidence  Stress  Sleep  Energy
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Finish all exercise at least 4 hours before bed

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