Normally, exercise helps us sleep

My workout

Published on 28 August 2019
by Karen Laroche

Normally, exercise helps us sleep. What about going to the gym late at night, is it good or bad? Here is our take on the situation:

Exercising used to be considered sleep’s number one enemy as it increases our body temperature, heart rate, and adrenaline. But this perception seems to be losing ground, particularly for those with no sleep issues. Despite previous recommendations from the National Sleep Foundation to avoid exercising for at least two hours before sleep, they now advise those with normal sleep habits to exercise as late as they want, as long as it doesn't cut into their sleep time.

Your partner likes to go running at six in the morning while you move at a snail’s pace, even though your lifestyles are identical? What gives? Here is a simple explanation: it all has to do with your chronotype. The chronotype is manifested in the body’s circadian rhythm (your 24-hour biological cycle), reflecting whether you prefer activities in the morning or in the evening, specifically upon waking or before going to sleep. Some people are natural early birds, others are night owls, and some fall somewhere between the two. There is no wrong way to be, you simply need to know yourself. Early birds are at their best in the morning. They tend to benefit more from their workout if done at the beginning of the day. Night owls are better off working out in the evening. It’s that simple!

While choosing a specific time to train in the evening will not have much of an impact on your workout, if you’ve been up for 17 hours, your performance will surely be limited. The most important factors are how much sleep you get and the time you wake up.

Not a bad rule of thumb, right? Only work out in the evenings if you are able to sleep for at least six or seven hours.

Karen Laroche
Kinesiologist with a Master in Exercise Science. Responsible for special training projects for the Énergie Cardio network

Karen was initially a trainer at the Énergie Cardio centre in Trois-Rivières. After completing her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in kinesiology, she opened her own CrossFit studio. She then moved to Montreal and took over the Énergie Cardio centre in Complexe Desjardins. Karen is now the centre’s head trainer and oversees all special training projects. In addition to her vast professional experience, Karen is also a distinguished CrossFit athlete.