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Exercise Mistakes To Avoid Before Sleep

Written by Dr. Jatin Bhide on Fri, 11 November 2022

Key Highlights

  • Your exercise routine should match your body clock. If you are an early riser, it is better to exercise in the morning and a little later in the evening for people who wake up late.
  • Improper gear, skipping warm-up, training on an empty stomach, and lack of sleep are some of the exercise mistakes you should avoid before sleep.
  • Light exercise a few hours before your bedtime may actually be good for your sleep.
  • Weight training, on the other hand, done any time of the day is beneficial for your quality of sleep.
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You're exhausted after a long day's work and can't wait to hit the bed and tuck yourself into your cozy blanket. But before you do, think going through your social media notifications wouldn't harm? Think again. Feel like grabbing a cup of coffee as you lie awake thinking about the scheduled meetings in the coming week? Think again. Packing in an exercise schedule just before bedtime? Think again! Wondering if you should finish the series of your long pending TV program? THINK AGAIN!

These regular habits and exercise mistakes could be ruining your sleep and eventually causing greater damage to your body. Sleep and wakefulness are influenced by different neurotransmitter signals in the brain. Certain foods, medicines and habits can change the balance of these signals that affect whether you feel alert or drowsy and also how well you are able to sleep.

Health Benefits of Physical Activity

In addition to helping you sleep better, regular exercise also provides the following benefits:
 

Health Benefits of Physical Activity1. Improved Endurance: Certain aerobic activities can increase your heart and breathing rates, which is important for healthy cardiovascular, respiratory, and circulatory functions. Endurance exercises include running or brisk walking, swimming, and cycling.

2. Stronger Bones and Muscles: Weightlifting and other strength-building exercises can increase your muscle mass. For older adults, physical activity also keeps bones and joints in good shape. This can counteract the loss of bone density, which naturally occurs with age, and decrease the risk of a hip fracture during a fall.

3. Increased Balance and Flexibility: Balancing exercises like tai chi make it easier for you to walk on uneven surfaces and reduce your risk of falling and injuring yourself. Yoga and other stretching exercises help your body remain limber.

4. Weight Management: Exercising allows you to burn the calories you consume from eating and drinking. The right amount of exercise depends on your body type since some people require more physical activity to burn calories. However, 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity five times per week is recommended for most people.

5. Reduced Health Risks: Regular exercise can decrease your risk of a wide range of diseases and medical conditions. These include cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, and some types of cancer. Physical activity can also reduce your risk of mental health disorders like depression and anxiety.

6. Longer Lifespan: People who exercise for roughly 150 minutes per week are 33% more likely to outlive those who don't exercise. Keep in mind that you don't need to overdo it physical activity in order to be healthy. Even small bursts of moderate to vigorous exercise can benefit your overall health.

Exercise Mistakes You Should Avoid Before Sleep

Top fitness experts share the most common workout mistakes that might be sabotaging your fitness goals and sleep quality — and how you can fix them:

Exercise Mistakes You Should Avoid Before Sleep1. Skipping warm-up

Think of your muscles and connective tissue like a rubber band. If you pull a rubber band when it's cold, it can snap. But if you heat up that rubber, it's far more elastic and flexible. Warming up before exercise prepares your muscles, heart and lungs for physical activity, lowers risk of injuries and helps gear up your mind for the workout ahead. When you do warm-up right, the temperature of your muscles and overall body rises which increases blood flow. This, in turn, improves circulation and muscle elasticity which can increase the range of motion. All of these factors can enhance speed, strength and endurance. Think of it as warming up your car on a freezing cold day. Your car runs much more smoothly and efficiently when you give it time to prepare to go from 0 to 60.

2. Not having a set plan for a workout

Typically starting a workout without a set plan for that particular day can lead to a lot of wasted time. This is why it's crucial to set your intention — which includes listening to your body in order to make the most of the time you have.

Moreover, not setting aside time for a workout and assuming you'll just 'fit it in' at some point in the day accounts for many missed workouts. So, put it in your planner, just like you would a doctor's appointment.

Ideally, you must do a minimum of three 30 minute workout sessions in a week or four 20 minute sessions at the gym per week - with a maximum of six hours of training. You'll need to put in more conscious effort initially, but it will become a whole lot easier once it becomes a habit.

3. Taking your phone with you while working out

If you have your phone on you, you're going to look at it which can affect your focus, the workout's effectiveness and your mood. If you must have it on hand, set a limit on how often you're going to check it. If you're someone who takes footage of your workouts, leave that to the end of the workout so that your flow and focus won't get interrupted.

4. Static stretching before a workout

Static stretching refers to a stretch that is held at a challenging position for 10 to 30 seconds. For example, a standing shin stretch or standing hamstring stretch.

Doing static stretches slows down your heart rate, lowers injury risk and helps reduce DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) which is why it should be left for after the workout.

To prep your body for a workout, do dynamic stretching instead, as it helps warm up your body by increasing the blood flow and getting your muscles ready for physical activity. An example of a dynamic stretch would be a forward lunge with a twist- which warms up your t-spine, hips, core, and legs. Alternating legs and doing about five with each leg would be a good way to get warmed up.

5. Overlooking recovery

Chase performance, not soreness. When you over train, you don't give your body enough time to heal and rejuvenate. This adversely affects your performance and makes your body susceptible to both fitness burnout and injuries.

Growth happens during rest days when your muscle fibers have time to repair and grow stronger. This is why scheduling rest and recover days is essential if you want to optimize your performance.

Besides rest days, splitting up your workouts is another great way to enhance performance while allowing your muscles to properly recover.
 

Michaels recommends muscle splits — meaning, training certain muscle groups on certain days and giving them rest on the remaining days. For example, focus on your push muscles (like chest, quads and shoulders) on Mondays and Thursdays. And then work on your pull muscles (like back, hamstrings and biceps) every Tuesday and Friday. Schedule cardio for Saturdays. And take Wednesday and Sunday off for rest and recovery.

6. Being inconsistent

People often hop from one workout to another wanting to try everything. It's better to create a proper fitness routine and stick with it as consistency yields the best results. While the first rule is consistency the second is using the right technique.
 

Choose a technique that's suitable for your current fitness level and aligns with your fitness goals. Many people choose to do running in order to lose weight. But regularly running for a consistent period really just helps with stamina and endurance.
 

If you're trying to get rid of body fat, HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) is your best bet. The most effective fitness techniques are HIIT, resistance training — preferably with free weights like dumbbells, kettlebells or barbells and bodyweight training that utilizes multiple muscle groups simultaneously like a burpee. These techniques are proven to get the best results the quickest.
 

7. Getting too comfortable

We are all creatures of habit and feel most comfortable when we are in a routine. However, in order to optimize your performance, ensure that you are not just consistent with your routine but also consistently challenged within that routine, tells Stokes.
 

Your body adapts to exercise stress over time, and that's why you stop seeing progress if you keep doing the same workout day in and out. In addition, when you do the same movements over and over, it can cause overuse injuries due to repetitive stress.
 

This is why you should up the ante a bit every two weeks. Whatever your fitness goal is, you should strive to get your body to do a little more to improve. The key is to not throw all of these things at your body at once or push yourself so hard that you're unable to recover.
 

8. Skimping on fluids

Being dehydrated can dramatically decrease your performance. When you exercise, your core temperature rises above normal which places stress on your body. Drinking fluids keeps that stress at bay.
 

Proper hydration also helps lubricate your joints and reduce inflammation. In addition, fluids also help transport essential energy nutrients which in turn makes your workout more effective and flush out metabolic waste that is produced during an intense workout.
 

So, drink plenty of water and eat water-rich foods (like cucumber, strawberries, tomato, orange, Brussel sprouts, and cantaloupe). And if your workout is particularly grueling, opt for a drink that also contains essential electrolytes such as sodium and potassium.

9. Insufficient fuel

Avoid training on an empty stomach. Ensure that you time your food intake properly. Eat something no less than 45 minutes prior to the workout. This gives you the blood sugar you need for energy but prevents all the blood from going to your stomach to digest food — which can compromise oxygen delivery to your muscles while training.

Eating carbs and protein-rich foods (think whole wheat crackers, fresh fruit, boiled egg or oatmeal) is a great way to get your pre-workout fuel. Getting post-workout nutrition is also extremely important. Your workout sessions put stress on your body. It needs proper fuel in order to recover from that stress and grow stronger — so skipping food post-exercise will only work against you.

10. Lack of sleep

If you want to perform at your best — make sure you're getting at least six to eight hours of quality sleep. Quality sleep doesn't just energize you but also facilitates muscle growth and recovery and helps keep the hormones that control hunger in check - so your efforts in the gym are not undone by poor food choices. Getting adequate sleep is also essential for strengthening your immune system, learning and memory consolidation, improving mood and virtually all other aspects of health. Lack of sleep can affect your overall health. So, try to get proper sleep every night.

11. Skipping foam rolling

Foam rolling breaks up the fascia over the muscles that inhibit range of motion, thus improving mobility and flexibility. It also increases the flow of blood and oxygen to the muscle tissue which accelerates the healing process and helps alleviate muscle soreness. Ideally, it should be done both before and after a workout.

The key places to foam roll are back, hamstrings, glutes, IT band, lats, quads, adductors and calves. Just place the foam roller in the desired area, apply pressure with your body weight and slowly roll — once you find a "sweet spot" (a spot that kills), hold it there for a few seconds and take some deep breaths. Breathing is the most important part during this process

12. Improper Gear

Whether you do yoga, kickboxing or some other kind of workout, it's important to dress the part. You don't want your ability to run, jump, dance, push, pull and move in general to be inhibited by your apparel choices. So, make sure you are wearing the right clothes and footwear for your workout.

Conclusion

Working out right before bedtime has traditionally been disapproved. It was assumed that exercising later in the day would make it more difficult to fall asleep and should be among exercise mistakes to avoid before sleep. Recent research has indicated that moderate-intensity exercise if completed at least 1 hour before night, has no effect on sleep quality.

Strenuous physical activity right before night, on the other hand, may disrupt your sleep and is one of the many exercise mistakes you should avoid before sleep. Running, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), and lifting heavy weights are examples of such routines. Everyone, however, is unique.
 

The best time to start exercising is when it is convenient for you. The most essential thing is that you exercise on a regular basis, whenever that is. Improper gear, skipping warm-up, training on an empty stomach, and lack of sleep are some of the exercise mistakes you should avoid before sleep.

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Dr. Jatin Bhide

Dr Jatin Bhide is an Ayurvedic doctor with over 16 years of enriching experience in Marketing and Strategy across OTC/FMHG, herbal medicine and Nutraceuticals (Europe) industries. He did his Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (BAMS) from Mumbai University, before moving on to do a Post Graduate Diploma in Pharmaceuticals and Healthcare Management.

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