Stick To These Exercises If You Work Out At Night

Conventional wisdom says that people should exercise for about 30 minutes, three to five days a week. That doesn't sound too hard. But for some people, it can be a nightmare to fit in. They have to rush through their days and only have time to workout when most people are winding down for the day. Sure they'd love to workout earlier in the day, but work, school, and appointments keep them busy.

The situation is more common that most people think. A 2013 poll by the National Sleep Foundation found that 23 percent of people exercised within four hours of trying to sleep. And for most of recent history, this sort of thing would be frowned on. It was believed that exercise raised a person's body temperature, making it harder to sleep. New studies, however, have found that exercise might actually improve sleep — so long as you pick the right ones, that is.

Intense exercise like cardio is still out according to Dr. Michael Breus. Dr. Breus is a board-certified sleep expert and a clinical psychologist who has earned himself the nickname "The Sleep Doctor". A round of cardio, he told HuffPost this month, should wrap up no fewer than four hours before bed. This gives the body time to cool down, which is key to sleep since our bodies produce melatonin when they're cooler. However, he doesn't recommend skipping cardio completely since "regular cardiovascular exercise appears to help people fall asleep and stay asleep."

Try these workouts instead of cardio

You might not want to ramp up your heart rate right before bed, but that doesn't mean you have to skip working out entirely. HuffPost also interviewed certified personal trainer Tatiana Boncompagni and asked her if any exercises promoted sleep. Boncompagni's answer came down to two things: Focus and body control. She prefers weight lifting about an hour before bed, specifically deadlifts.

"When you're done weightlifting, which taxes your central nervous system, you might feel a buzz and be in a calm, relaxed state."

This state of mind can make it easier for you to go to sleep. Boncompagni found it through weightlifting. But a 2012 study conducted at West Virginia University found that yoga is also an effective exercise that both works out the body and aids sleep. Another study published through the Journal of Clinical Oncology, found similar results. Both studies focused on specific demographics — one on older women and one on cancer survivors — but researchers believe the results can be more widely applied.

Not all yoga will calm you down for bed. Some styles are intended to create intense workouts that will raise your heart rate and effectively act as cardio. These include popular styles like Kundalini or Vinyasa. But some styles, such as Hatha and Iyengar, emphasize controlled breathing and poses that focus on proper form rather than high-intensity movement. Both styles will help you focus, calm your thoughts, and give your body a gentle workout before you get your much-deserved rest.