Many studies have failed to show that pre-sleep exercise has a negative effect on sleep onset. However, since only a moderate level of physiological excitement was observed at bedtime in these studies, it remains unclear whether a larger magnitude of physiologic excitement present at bedtime would disrupt sleep onset. This study compared the effects of pre-sleep exercise, which led to different levels of physiologic excitement at bedtime (moderate and heavy), on sleep onset.
Twelve active young men underwent non-exercise, moderate-intensity exercise, and high-intensity exercise conditions. The subjects maintained a sedentary condition on a reclining seat throughout the day. On the non-exercise day, the subjects remained seated at rest until going to bed. On the moderate- and high-intensity exercise days, the subject exercised for 40 min (21:20–22:00) at 60 and 80 % heart rate reserve, respectively. Sleep polysomnography, core body and skin temperatures, heart rate (HR), and heart rate variability (HRV) were recorded.
We observed a delay in sleep onset (+14.0 min, P < 0.05), a marked physiological excitement at bedtime as reflected by an increased HR (+25.7 bpm, P < 0.01), and a lower high-frequency power of HRV (−590 ms2, P < 0.01) only on the high-intensity exercise day.
These results indicate that pre-sleep vigorous exercise, which causes a large physiologic excitement at bedtime, might disrupt the onset of sleep.
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Analysis of variance
Core body temperature
Heart rate variability
Non-rapid eye movement
Rapid eye movement
Visual analog scale
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This work was supported by the Academic Frontier, Project for Private Universities: matching fund and subsidy from MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology), 2004–2008.
Conflict of interest
The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.
Communicated by William J. Kraemer.
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Oda, S., Shirakawa, K. Sleep onset is disrupted following pre-sleep exercise that causes large physiological excitement at bedtime. Eur J Appl Physiol 114, 1789–1799 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-014-2873-2
- Body temperature
- Heart rate
- Heart rate variability