Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Evening Exercise Experiment

During my search for ways to improve my post-menopausal interrupted sleep, I keep coming across the advice to avoid exercise near bedtime. Each time, I have thought "What nonsense! It doesn't interfere with my sleep at all." After the fifth or tenth or seventieth time I encountered this, I decided to conduct an experiment.

Hypothesis: Contrary to common wisdom, exercise near bedtime is not detrimental to sleep.

Methodology: For about three weeks, I have spent fifteen minutes on the exercise bike just before letting the dog out one last time and getting into bed. I continued to record my sleep data (time to bed, time fell asleep, number of times waking up, time alarm went off, quality of tiredness) in my journal as usual. I have been too lazy or too busy, pick one, to chart this data and present it in a table.

Conclusion: Bedtime exercise does not increase interruptions to sleep, and may even be preventative. (The one time I missed doing the bike was the time I woke up once every hour all night long, instead of one to three times a night. I wasn't missing exercise per se because I'd been for a long walk earlier in the day.) Of course, the drawback to a study with one subject is the lack of controls. It is convincing enough to make me keep working at squeezing the time for exercise in at the end of the day.


  1. I say an experiment with one subject is the PERFECT experiment if you happen to be that one subject!

    The more conflicting research I read about every health question you can think of, the more I think we need to conduct our own experiments. Does it matter what 99% of the experts recommend if it doesn't work for us?

    (We often go for a walk right before bedtime, and it doesn't seem to make sleeping any worse... Now I'll have to start noting if it helps!)

  2. But sometimes I want a control group, and I can't clone myself! Some clones would help in so many other ways, too.

  3. I'm with Crabby, if it helps, keep doing it. I also want clones, but only if they don't require food and rest...oh I guess I want a robot ;)

  4. If I wasn't so freakin' lazy, I'd try the exercise before bed thingy, too, just to see if it made a difference.
    My method for dealing with the sleep disturbances is to read until I fall asleep and the book clunks to the floor. Then I'll turn off the light and toss and turn for the rest of the night.
    Oh, wait, that doesn't help, does it? (On the other hand, if I don't do all of that, I still toss and turn all night, so at least it's a good excuse for indulging my love of reading.)
    I'll shut up now.

  5. I try to do my exercise tread-mill thing in the morning. I have found that within the last year, those pounds still stick with me whether I exercise or not. I'm with you in waking up at night, only I wake up and stay awake for hours. It's the dreaded menopause thing!

  6. Reb, I intend for the clones to work and sleep on different shifts from the Prime, so one of us is always rested.

    BL, I think you need to read especially heavy books at bedtime, so that picking them up off the floor counts as exercise.

    Redbush, this whole sleep disruption thing started as I approached menopause, with the added confusion that my father's health was declining during those years, so, even before he broke his hip and moved in with me, I was subconsciously alert all night for a phone call. Then, after his death (some years past menopause) I stopped waking up with a jerk all night, but I still woke up about once an hour. There seems to be slow improvement in that regard, and now that I've started this evening exercise the periods of sleep are longer and also more restful.

    Best of luck in the sleep department.

  7. I usually try to get my exercise as soon as I get home from work, but there have been times when I've done my workouts closer to bed time and most of the time I didn't find it interfered with my sleep. I could finish my workout between 9-9:30 pm and still go to bed at 11 and fall asleep.

    As a general rule though, I do find that exercising on a regular basis helps me sleep better.

  8. I've been exercising as close to bed-time as I could. A couple of hours earlier doesn't seem to be as effective. Also, on my schedule, there is seldom as much as two hours between supper and bed. I do my yoga before supper, when I've been home long enough to loosen up from being in the car nearly an hour, and then I try to get everything that needs to be done before the next day actually done, and if I don't make myself fit it in, that doesn't leave time for exercise. Of course, work is very physical.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky