man lifting weights and exercising, lift worry

People plagued with insomnia are often advised to exercise during the day but not close to bedtime. The fear has been that vigorous physical activity in the evening might be stimulating and make it harder to fall asleep.

A new study of young Swiss athletes challenges this conventional wisdom. The 52 students averaged 19 years old and played sports two or three times a week. On the study evening, they played for 65 to 90 minutes, ending about an hour and a half before bedtime. During the night they wore a device to capture a sleep EEG.

Those who reported exercising more strenuously fell asleep more quickly, woke up less often during the night and slept better than those who had not put in as much effort. They also reported better moods and less hunger at bedtime.

[Sleep Medicine, online June 16, 2014]

The People’s Pharmacy is pleased to see this validation of evening exercise, as that is often the most convenient time of day to get to the gym or to meet with friends for a quick game. Now there’s no need to worry that exertion will keep you awake, so have fun!

For more information about overcoming insomnia, we offer our Guide to Getting a Good Night’s Sleep.

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  1. JP

    Just another study to show one shoe doesn’t fit all.

  2. pp

    For me exercise after the evening meal definitely affects sleep, but a moderate walk does us good.

  3. Anne S

    I am a 61 year old woman who never had sleeping problems until about the last 10 years. For me, if I exercise lightly between 5:00 – 7:00 pm, I find I sleep MUCH better. I have read studies that indicate not to exercise in the evening, but I know what works for me. Thank you.

  4. DS

    This just shows that whether you are old or young, you can ignore the “conventional wisdom” and TRY exercise. If you are not sleeping well anyway, what have you got to lose? One night’s sleep which you are not getting anyway?

  5. JW

    Thanks GF! I had been wondering myself… ANY 19 year olds have trouble sleeping?? I have to wind down for hours to get to sleep.
    I don’t just avoid invigorating exercise, I follow the common advice to turn off the TV and get off-line.

  6. GF

    The study was done on young athletes. What do 19 year old athletes have to do with the responses of, say, menopausal women?

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