You Should Never Exercise Right Before Bed. Here's Why

It's been a long day, and maybe you managed to check off everything on your to-do list except exercising. Now it's nearly time to hit the hay, and you're thinking about lacing up for some quick cardio. Better late than never, right? Wrong. That's because exercising less than one hour before bed can interfere with your sleep quality, according to Harvard University. In a series of studies comparing adults who exercised before bed to those who did not, a pattern became clear: workouts too close to bedtime resulted in difficulty both falling and staying asleep. 

But you gave that workout your all! Shouldn't exhausting all of your energy leave you, well... exhausted? Actually, exercise is energizing (via Mayo Clinic). This is a great thing at 6 a.m. when you're getting ready to slay the day, or even 8 p.m. when the night is still young, but when all that's left to do is count sheep, that energy boost you got from your sweat session may lead to some vigorous tossing and turning. Plus, exercise raises your body temperature. "That can create a delay in your circadian rhythm and make it harder to fall asleep," W. Christopher Winter, M.D. of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine explained to SELF.

Lack of sleep can lead to weight gain and poor endurance

Maybe you're thinking that missing out on some ZZZs is no big deal if the trade-off is burning calories. In truth, the more well-rested you are, the easier it will be for you to lose weight. This isn't because you burn tons of calories while you snooze (if only that were true!), but that poor sleep quality reduces your overall caloric burn. "It's not so much that if you sleep, you will lose weight, but if you are sleep-deprived, meaning that you are not getting enough minutes of sleep or good quality sleep, your metabolism will not function properly," Michael Breus, Ph.D., clinical director of the sleep division for Arrowhead Health in Glendale, Ariz., told WebMD.

Plus, you might find it harder to complete that Couch to 5K training program or to make it through your Peloton class if you're sleep-deprived. Even for your ordinary, everyday athlete — that includes you, you sleep-skipping workout fiend! — lack of sleep zaps athletic performance (via Cleveland Clinic).

Aside from the hour right before bedtime, though, almost any time you choose for a workout will benefit your body (per Time). So if you're a night owl, just make sure you schedule that fitness session with plenty of time left over to recover and prepare for bed. Bonus points if you can add in a little time to wind down with yoga afterward — so you can happily namaste in bed all night long!