It has long been proven that exercise can help to improve both sleep quality and quantity. A good night’s sleep can enhance mood, memory, and concentration levels, as well as lowering blood pressure, alleviate stress and boost your immunity.

However, there are circumstances when your exercise regime may be causing you more harm than good when it comes to your sleep. To explain more, Vanessa Gebhardt, Mindset and Training Specialist at Freeletics, shares how your fitness regime could be wreaking havoc on your sleep:

  1. Your Body Temperature Is Too High: 

Exercising too close to bedtime can make it challenging to fall asleep. In particular, high-intensity exercises can raise your body temperature, speed up your heart rate, and stimulate the nervous system which can affect sleep considerably. In order to fall asleep and stay asleep, your body needs to be at an optimum temperature. If you are keen to exercise during the evening hours, try some low impact exercises and simple stretches which can help to prepare your body for sleep. 

  1. You Are Too Full: 

After an evening workout, many will opt for a hearty meal to compensate for all of the calories burned. However, for optimum sleep, experts recommend eating dinner at least 3 hours before bedtime. In fact, it is beneficial to eat your main meal at lunchtime between the hours of 11 am -3 pm, so that your food is completely digested and all the energy has been used. Your body wants to cleanse during sleep, so a heavy meal late at night will mean your body will have to work to digest instead of cleansing. This will lead to disturbed sleep patterns, often waking in the early hours.

  1. Your Adrenaline Levels Matter: 

High-intensity exercise can boost adrenaline production in the body significantly. If you are exercising later in the day, your adrenaline levels will likely stay elevated at bedtime which will make it very hard for you to switch your mind off. Adrenaline also increases alertness, making it harder to relax into a sound sleep.

  1. Too Much Caffeine: 

Think twice before consuming that cup of coffee or caffeine stimulant after your workout! it is important to avoid having these after lunchtime as it can take up to 8 hours to leave the body. Calming herbal teas make an excellent post-workout alternative and many also boast further benefits – peppermint, helps to aid digestion, whilst chamomile is a natural sleep inducer.

  1. You’re Skipping Your Cool Down: 

A cool-down is an essential part of your workout however, many people actually tend to skip it for a variety of reasons. One of the most important benefits of a cool down is that it allows for a gradual recovery of your heart rate.  During exercise, your heart rate will increase and the heart will pump more blood around the body to supplement the muscles which are working harder than usual. A cool-down also provides a great opportunity to relax and unwind, which in turn, will help optimise sleep. If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to cooling down after a session, Freeletics has launched a range of new cool down exercises in the app, as well as features that encourage users to never skip a cooldown, despite how pushed for time they may be.

words by Vanessa Gebhardt – Mind Coach and Training Specialist at Freeletics, the leading provider of AI-based fitness and mindset coaching.

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