Why You Shouldn’t Sleep Right After You Exercise

July 12, 2011

So you’ve promised yourself to start exercising every day. Your weight tells you to, and the mirror certainly agrees. But you look at your schedule and it doesn’t seem to be in harmony with this plan. You’ll be having a hard time if you do it in the morning, since school or work is quite early and you’re not much of a morning person. So you eventually come to the decision to exercise at night. After all, you only sit all day, listening to the professor and taking down notes or just sit in front of a monitor, walking less than 100 meters in total in and around the campus or office building. It’s not really exhausting, so you figure you still have the energy to exercise when you get home.

We need exercise in order to keep our body fit and healthy – but you need to find the right time for exercise, one that won’t interfere with school, work, and of course, sleep.

I’m not saying that exercising at night is bad for you, but I’m here to tell you why you shouldn’t sleep right after you exercise.

What exercise does to you. Cardiovascular exercise, or exercise that raises your heart rate and keeps your muscles in continual motion for at least 20 minutes, will stimulate your heart , muscles (of course), and your brain (because more blood and oxygen is supplied to it). This keeps you alive, alert, awake, and enthusiastic. Not only that, exercise makes your body temperature rise even for a couple of hours after exercising. These two simple things are good, but they aren’t good things in relation to sleep.

What you need in order to sleep. When it’s night time, your body automatically slightly decreases your body temperature, preparing for sleep.  It’s important that your mind and body is relaxed. A lot of people know that you should relax when you’re about to sleep, not agitated. You should think peaceful thoughts, listen to relaxing music, and make sure your mind is calm. The problem is, when you exercise right before sleeping, your mind and body are still both in the state of agitation. And since your body temperature rose and will only drop after at least an hour, guess what – you won’t be able to sleep. The two are just in conflict if you place them in that order.

So what now? Either you wake up early to exercise, or you start exercising a little sooner before you sleep, preferably just as soon as the sun sets. At that time when your body temperature starts dropping after exercising, it’s also the same time when your body’s natural clock tells it to lower the temperature to ready for sleep.

It’s not wrong to exercise, of course, and it has always been good to do so. It’s only a matter of timing. So as with most of the things in life, make sure that you do the right thing at the right time.