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Working out in the evening does not happen at the expense of sleep

According to some doctors and scientists, you should not work out in the evening. Evening workouts harm sleep, they say. For a hard-working recreational athlete this creates problems. At least, if the doctors and scientists are correct. But luckily they aren't, Swiss sports scientists, associated with ETH Zurich, report in Sports Medicine.

The Swiss traced 23 previously published studies, aggregated the results and analyzed them again.

The researchers that exercising in the evening exercise had no effect on the time that test subjects needed to fall asleep.

Working out in the evening does not happen at the expense of sleep

Workout out in the evening even had a modest positive effect on sleep quality. The time that the test subjects spent in slow wave sleep - the most vital phase of sleep, in which the body intensifies recovery processes and produces anabolic hormones - increased by exercising at night.

Working out in the evening does not happen at the expense of sleep

Yes, there were a few studies in which evening workouts have a negative effect on sleep. In those studies the subjects trained intensively, and after exercising went to bed within an hour.

Working out in the evening is fine, but one hour before you go to sleep, intensive exercise is apparently a bit 'too much'.

Working out in the evening does not happen at the expense of sleep

"Overall, exercise performed in the evening does not seem to negatively affect sleep", the researchers write. "In fact, rather the opposite. But the effects are small."

"However, although moderator analyses did not show any significant association between moderator variables and sleep, results from a few studies suggested that sleep might indeed be impaired after vigorous exercise ending less than one hour before bedtime, possibly due to insufficient cardiovascular recovery, resulting in an increased heart rate and blunted parasympathetic activity at bedtime."

Sports Med. 2018 Oct 29. doi: 10.1007/s40279-018-1015-0. [Epub ahead of print].

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