How to Sleep Perfectly After an Intense Workout
If you’re someone who struggles to get good quality shut-eye after exercising because of body aches, pain, or restless legs, you should know that there are a few science-backed ways to ease the struggle.
How to Sleep Perfectly
This article will discuss a few tips and tricks that can help you sleep more soundly after an intense gym session. So, let’s get right into it!
Establish a healthy daily routine
Want a good reason to hit the gym early in the morning? Studies have shown that engaging in intensive aerobic exercise in the evening or later can compromise your sleep.
This is because exercise causes your heart rate and core body temperature to increase and can throw your sleep cycles into disarray. This means intense late-night workout sessions could significantly hinder your ability to catch some Zs.
Research suggests that the best time to work out is early morning (around 7 a.m.). As opposed to exercising later in the day, exercising in the morning helps you get more prolonged and deeper sleep cycles and enhances nocturnal blood pressure changes.
If your schedule doesn’t allow for early morning exercise, consider making an effort to at least start your sweat sessions at the same time each night (and preferably at least 90 minutes before you hit the bed).
That’s because biological rhythms are always in search of patterns. Working out at the same time each day can help align your body’s circadian rhythms.
If you work out each night at more or less the same time, you may actually sleep better than if you exercise irregularly.
Cool off before going to bed
Research has shown that our body temperature takes a dip right before we drift off into sleep. This helps trigger our body’s sleep processes.
But we all know that exercise raises core body temperatures. After a workout, your body takes some time to return back to its baseline temperature, which can make falling asleep difficult.
The duration, intensity, and type of workout play a role in determining how much heat your body will produce.
A heavy cardio session is often the most problematic type of exercise for your sleep. In comparison, weightlifting exercises that include long rest between each set won’t raise your temperature as much. Yoga or light stretches also have a negligible effect on heat production.
So to help lower your temperatures towards the baseline after a workout, consider proactively cooling your body.
A cold shower or an ice bath after an intense workout will cause a “rebound effect.” This can help your body temperatures dip faster, trigger drowsiness, and make falling asleep much more effortless.
You can also try cooling your bedroom’s room temperature to help you fall asleep quicker. A cool environment makes transitioning into the deeper stages of sleep easy.
Each individual is a bit different, but most experts consider the optimal ambient bedroom temperature for sleep to be around 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit.
De-stress before jumping in bed
Cortisol and adrenaline are “stress-hormones” produced by the activation of the sympathetic nervous system (also known as the “fight or flight” system of the body).
Calming the sympathetic nerves and switching on the parasympathetic nervous system (the “rest and digest” system) will help you unwind, relax, and fall asleep better. You can do this by “de-stressing” and incorporating a bit of relaxing yoga and meditation into your daily routine.
Studies have found that yoga is effective in helping insomniacs achieve better slumber. Try doing a few relaxing yoga poses after your workout or right before jumping into bed to counteract the post-workout high. Here are 10 useful tips to start practicing yoga.
Meditation or a few minutes of deep, slow belly breaths can also help calm your body and sleep better by lowering adrenaline levels.
Follow a bedtime ritual to relax
Every parent knows how important a bedtime ritual is for children, but the same is true for adults as well!
Humans crave routine and function better when their days are organized in a predictable manner, regardless of age. Any daily nighttime habit you follow that can cue that it’s time for some shut-eye — like reading a book, meditating, or taking a warm bath — is a win.
Additionally, be mindful of the amount of melatonin-disrupting light present in your sleep environment if you want to sleep better.
Turn off all bright light sources, invest in some blackout curtains, and stop using electronic devices near your bedtime to ensure you get high-quality sleep.
It may also be a good idea to use helpful methods to assist in your sleep such as essential oils to relax or a CPAP device if you struggle to get a great sleep.
Curb coffee consumption
Numerous studies have shown that consuming coffee up to 6 hours before bedtime has significant disruptive effects on our sleep cycles.
Most of us know that caffeine should be avoided before bed because it can drive off sleep but not many people know what to replace it with. Well, there are many sleep-inducing drinks that can help you here.
You can try sipping on some chamomile tea, cherry juice, warm milk, and some other dairy products to get yourself more ready to catch some Zs.
Foods that contain sleep nutrients like vitamin C, magnesium, and potassium can also help. Studies have found that eating almonds, walnuts, and kiwis before bed can be beneficial for our sleep.
So if you can replace caffeine with some of the foods we’ve mentioned above, getting good-quality sleep should not be a problem!
Now you have no excuse not to work out AND sleep perfectly, right? Try these tips tonight!