Should we avoid doing sports in the evening?

Should we avoid doing sports in the evening?

You may have noticed: after doing a good workout in the evening, it’s difficult to fall asleep. More than an impression, this could be explained scientifically, according to the results of a new study published by researchers from the University and the Caen University Hospital. Explanations from Dr Gérald Kierzek, emergency doctor and medical director of TipsForWomens.

For scheduling reasons, some people are often forced to postpone their sports session in the evening. If exercising is recommended for health, doing sports in the evening would cause sleep disturbances and difficulty falling asleep later.

Beware of hyperexcitement after a sports session!

Sleep physiology researchers from the University Hospital and the University of Caen were interested in these late-night sports practices and their consequences on sleep. To do this, they chose to have a small group of athletes – 15 men and 4 women, or 19 participants in total – undergo endurance exercises in the evening at 10 p.m., for 30 minutes and an hour before they finished. go to bed.

Before going to bed, these athletes were equipped with electrodes for polysomnography recordings. This made it possible to measure their brain activity for the night to come. Result: the scientists noted a state of hyperexcitation in these volunteers, with high levels of cortisol – the stress hormone, measured in saliva.

A state that prevents you from falling asleep

Joy Perrier, post-doctoral student at the University of Caen explains these results. “Higher cortisol makes it harder to get restful sleep or fall asleep easily. And then we must not forget that the body is regulated by other factors, notably temperature. When you exercise, you increase your temperature and all this can disrupt your falling asleep and your sleep.“.

An observation shared by Dr Gérald Kierzek, emergency doctor and medical director of TipsForWomens. “Our body requires cooling so that we can fall asleep“explains the doctor.”This is what will promote sleep, in addition to the presence of specific hormones, such as melatonin.”

Should we avoid doing sports in the evening?

Faced with this observation, should people who are used to doing sports in the evening give up this habit? No, believes Joy Perrier, who reminds us that it is better to do sport in the evening than not at all.

This study highlights significant changes in sleep quality and quantity after moderate evening endurance and resistance exercise. However, these effects cannot be considered harmful.” note the researchers.

So what are the solutions to limit the consequences on sleep as much as possible? According to Gérald Kierzek, it is especially team sports, combat sports or running that should be avoided. “These are sports that involve adrenaline peaks and increase body temperature. Because these are the factors that will subsequently disrupt sleep. To avoid this, it is preferable to do your session at the end of the day, around 6 p.m. for example, this will not have an impact on the night.”.

If this is not possible, gentler activities, such as yoga or walking, will not have these effects. And to cool down your body, it is also recommended to take a lukewarm shower before going to bed.