Testing the sleep hygiene recommendation against nighttime exercise

Shawn D. Youngstedt, Wakako Ito, Giselle Soares Passos, Marcos Gonçalves Santana, Julia M. Youngstedt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Purpose: Experts have recommended exercise for improved sleep, but often with the caveat that one should avoid nighttime exercise. The aim of this study was to challenge this recommendation in a sample who might be most prone to sleep impairment after nighttime exercise. The secondary aims were to assess whether or not post-treatment sleep was correlated with anxiolytic effects or downregulation of body temperature. Methods: Twelve sedentary adults with insomnia completed two treatments (separated by 2–5 days) in counterbalanced order: (1) 30 min of moderate treadmill exercise (60–70% maximum heart rate) + 15 min of moderate resistance exercise and (2) a control treatment (reading). Each treatment was completed 2 h before bedtime and followed by a 10-min shower, a light snack, 8 h of polysomnographic recording, and a sleep questionnaire. State anxiety was assessed before and 30 min after each treatment and 10 min before bedtime. Body temperature was assessed from pre-exercise to wake time. Results: No significant treatment differences in sleep were found, and Hedges g paired comparisons indicated small effect sizes; however, two participants had severely disturbed objective sleep following exercise. Significant correlations were found between change in state anxiety from pre-exercise to bedtime and TST (r = 0.69, p = 0.03). Stage 1 (r = 0.67, p = 0.03), WASO (r = 0.69, p = 0.03), and sleep efficiency (r = 0.66, p = 0.02). No significant correlations were found of sleep with temperature decline. Conclusions: Profound sleep disturbance after exercise in some participants, and no marked sleep improvement in the others, provides some support for caution regarding late-night exercise for sedentary individuals with insomnia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2189-2196
Number of pages8
JournalSleep and Breathing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Insomnia
  • Night exercise
  • Sleep
  • State anxiety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Clinical Neurology


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