A survey released last week by the National Sleep Foundation makes the case for exercising at any time of the day or night to improve sleep. The survey of 1,000 adults between the ages of 23 and 60 found that vigorous exercisers (running, biking, swimming) were almost twice as likely as sedentary people to report that they had a good night’s sleep every night or almost every night during the previous week. It didn’t matter whether the survey respondents exercised close to bedtime or first thing in the morning.
On the flip side, one-half of those who didn’t exercise reported waking up during the night on a regular basis and nearly one-fourth had difficulty falling asleep every night or almost every night.
“This finding contradicts long-standing ‘sleep hygiene’ tips that advise everyone not to exercise close to bedtime,” according to a statement on the sleep foundation’s website. “The National Sleep Foundation has amended its sleep recommendations for ‘normal’ sleepers to encourage exercise without any caveat to time of day as long as it’s not at the expense of sleep.”
Those who are being treated for chronic insomnia, however, should continue to restrict late evening and night exercise, the group recommended, if this is part of their treatment regimen.