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Effects of timing of moderate exercise in the evening on sleep and subsequent dietary intake in lean, young, healthy adults: randomized crossover study

Abstract

Purpose

This work studied the acute effects in healthy adults of evening exercise timing on their quality of sleep and dietary intake over the following 12 h.

Methods

Sixteen men and women, (age: 22.3 ± 1.4 years; BMI: 20.8 ± 1.4 kg/m2, intermediate chronotype) took part in three randomized crossover sessions spread over three consecutive weeks: control session (CTL), 1 h exercise session at 6:30 pm (E6:30) and 1 h exercise session at 8:30 pm (E8:30), in which exercise finished 4 h and 2 h before habitual bedtime, respectively. Exercise was an outdoor run at 60% HRmaxth. Energy expenditure and sleep were ambulatories monitored by accelerometry under free-living condition. Ad-libitum dinner and breakfast were used to measure subsequent energy intake and proportion of that energy derived from each macronutrient.

Results

Evening exercise did not disrupt sleep. Improvement in sleep quality compared to the control condition was observed only when exercise was performed 4 h before habitual bedtime (WASO: p < 0.01; SE: p < 0.02). Interestingly, our results give insight into differences in sleep parameters response to evening exercise between habitually poor and good sleepers mainly when it comes to sleep efficiency and wake after sleep onset (all p < 0.01). There was no difference in calorie intake from ad-libitum dinner and breakfast. However, an association between improvement in sleep efficiency from acute exercise and reduction of energy intake the following morning was found.

Conclusion

Early evening exercise could offer a useful alternative for achieving better sleep in healthy young adults especially when it comes to poor sleepers.

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Abbreviations

BF1:

Breakfast day 1

BF2:

Breakfast day 2

CTL:

Control session

EI:

Energy intake

ESS:

Epworth sleepiness scale

E6:30:

Exercise session at 6:30 pm

E8:30:

Exercise session at 8:30 pm

HR:

Heart rate

IPAQ-SF:

International physical activity questionnaire – short form

MEQ:

Horne–Östberg morningness–eveningness questionnaire

METs:

Metabolic equivalents of task

NAASO:

Number of awakenings > 3 min after sleep onset

PSQI:

Pittsburgh sleep quality index

RDA:

Recommended dietary allowance

SE:

Sleep efficiency

SL:

Sleep latency

TEE-24 h:

Total energy expenditure over 24 h

TST:

Total time asleep

TTB:

Total time in bed

WASO:

Wake after sleep onset

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Acknowledgements

We thank participants who kindly took part in this study.

Funding

No external funding was received for this work. This research project received no outside funding.

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Authors

Contributions

PD designed the study, CL and OS carried out the study under PD's supervision. OS ensured the acquisition, statistical analysis, and interpretation of data with support from PD and DD. OS drafted the first manuscript. DD revised the first version critically. All authors have approved the main manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Pascale Duché.

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Communicated by Lori Ann Vallis.

Appendix

Appendix

See Table 5.

Table 5 Ad-libitum buffet meals

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Saidi, O., Davenne, D., Lehorgne, C. et al. Effects of timing of moderate exercise in the evening on sleep and subsequent dietary intake in lean, young, healthy adults: randomized crossover study. Eur J Appl Physiol 120, 1551–1562 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-020-04386-6

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Keywords

  • Accelerometry
  • Sleep efficiency
  • Energy balance
  • Ad-libitum
  • College student