There are many reasons someone would want to do pushups before going to bed.
The main one usually is lack of time during the day: you have obligations, and fulfilling them feels more important than taking care of your body.
Another reason is simply that you enjoy working out later on more.
Whatever the case, if you’ve looked around on the Internet, you have found out many contradicting opinions about whether you should do pushups before bed.
In this article, you’ll learn everything there is to know about doing pushups before bed, if they are beneficial, or if they risk hindering your sleep.
If you’re in a rush, here’s a short summary of the article:
- It’s fine to workout before bedtime, as long as you don’t exhaust yourself
- Working out too hard before bed will make sleeping harder
- Measure workout intensity by paying attention to your breathing and muscle pain
- If you can’t do a regular pushup, go for easier versions like wall pushups
Working Out Before Bedtime
Traditionally, working out later in the day (anytime from 6-7 PM onwards) was thought to affect sleep negatively. As in you’d have issues falling asleep.
However, a study published in 2018 in Sports Medicine found out that it was partially false. It is true that heavy exercise performed right before going to bed made it hard to sleep, but there are two caveats that the previous beliefs didn’t consider:
- A moderate workout before bed is completely fine and doesn’t impact sleep
- A vigorous workout is also fine, as long as it’s performed at least one hour before bedtime
What does it mean? You can have a light workout right before bed and you won’t notice any problems falling asleep. Or you can have a rough workout where you give it your all, and as long as you give your body at least one hour of rest before going to bed, you won’t encounter any sleep issues.
The Benefits of Working Out Before Bed
This is easy: you’ll be tired after your workout, which means falling asleep will be much easier. All of the other usual workout benefits – like improved breathing and overall fitness are also very helpful when it comes to sleep.
Plus, bedtime might be the only part of the day where you actually can dedicate some time to yourself. Self-care is super important, as it guarantees you stay at the top of your performance day in day out.
However, working out before bed is best done in moderation. Read the next section to know more about the potential risks of working out too hard before bed.
The Problem of Hard Workouts Before Bed
When you do strenuous physical activity, your body produces high quantities of certain hormones, which can impact other neuroreceptors or even neutralize the hormones that produce sleepiness.
Basically, if you workout too hard, you’ll be too excited to actually sleep. That’s the gist of it.
However, if working out hard is a necessity or something you enjoy, then you can still do it at night, provided you complete your workout at least 1 hour before going to bed. The hour of rest allows your neuroreceptors to go back to normal, and for your body to calm down.
Moderate workouts aren’t as extreme on our hormone production, which is why they are fine even shortly before bed.
Measuring Workout Intensity
A question that I see asked often is: “How do I measure the intensity of my workout? What makes a workout hard, moderate, or light?”.
There is no objective answer to the question. Have you seen how hard Olympic athletes train? Anything I do is a light workout for them. Conversely, something that could be a moderate workout for you, like a 15 minutes run, could be an unsurmountable challenge for an out-of-shape person.
You can still easily tell whether a workout is hard or not on your body by analyzing your breath and general tiredness. A hard workout leaves you almost breathless and is extremely punishing for your muscles. Working yourself to muscle failures is also painful. That’s when you know you have pushed your body to its limits.
Conversely, something like walking is a very light workout (some people will argue it’s not even a workout, but that’s semantics). Assuming you don’t have any injury or respiratory condition, you shouldn’t feel breathless while walking, and you can do it for long period of times.
A moderate workout is something between these two: it requires some more strength and breathing, but it doesn’t leave you completely exhausted after you’ve finished one.
Editor’s tip: always breathe with your nose while performing physical activity. Avoid mouth-breathing, as it’s bad for your lungs. If you are used to breathing through your mouth make it a point to get used to nose-breathing in your everyday life.
What About Pushups?
The beauty of pushups is that they can make for a workout as light or intense as you wish. You can make your workout more intense simply by going for less rest between sets, or you can make it lighter by doing them more slowly, or by performing an easier version of regular pushups.
For example, you could do raised or wall pushups before bed. These are easier on your body, as they don’t make gravity as onerous on you. They aren’t as effective as full pushups, but does it matter? It’s about working out and enjoying its health benefit, it’s not a competition about who can work the hardest.
Another possible solution is simply to rest a lot between sets. While some people enjoying high intensity pushups by doing many sets in a short time span, you can easily make the workout lighter by waiting more time between sets.
Speaking of sets, breaking down a workout in sets is another excellent way to control intensity. Instead of doing 100 straight pushups, do 5 sets of 20 with some rest between each set. I can’t tell you how much to rest, as it depends on your body, but I personally found 5-minute rests to be great to keep the workout’s intensity low.
Pushups Ideas to Workout Before Bed
Let’s say you’re a bit out of shape and can’t do a full pushup. Or you can’t do too many in a row before having your arms drop to the floor like wet noodles. I know the struggle; I’ve been there myself.
So, how can you enjoy pushups before bed when you can’t do regular pushups?
Simple, you make it easier on your body to do a pushup. There are many variations to the pushups, some aim to maximize torture so you can really feel your muscles tearing and screaming while you think you are hot shit. Others are a bit more humane and are a great introduction to pushups.
Here are some pushup ideas you can do today to start slow and get your body used to do pushups.
- Wall pushups
Great exercise for those recovering from injuries, or for people who are very weak physically. Place your arms on the wall in a typical pushup position, and perform pushups while standing.
This exercise makes your arm used to the movement and also teaches good pushup mechanics while keeping it easy for the rest of your body, since you won’t be fighting gravity.
- Knee pushups
These are easy to do for most people. By keeping your body balanced on your knees you can start getting used to gravity fighting your arms. Perfect for beginners who can’t do a full push-up yet.
Since having your knees on the floor can be painful, I recommend getting a Yoga mat to offset the floor’s roughness. You can also use it for other exercises, it’s never a bad idea to buy one.
- Inclined pushups
Speaking of bed…have you ever thought of using your bed as equipment? Simply stand next to your bed and assume the pushup position with your hands firmly on the bed, and feet on the ground. Perform pushups this way.
These are a bit harder than the other pushups on this list, because it’s where you really start to fight gravity with your arms.
- Negative pushups
Negative pushups are a great introduction to pushups. Most people have issue with the movement of slowly dropping down and then suddenly rising up on their arms. A negative pushup only asks you to do the first part until you hit the ground.
Once your arms start getting used to keeping up your body while gravity takes its toll, you can start trying to transform negative pushups into full pushups.
So, should you do pushups before bed?
The answer is yes, but be careful.
You are working out to take care about yourself. Don’t overwork yourself for the sake of it. It’ll drastically lower your sleep quality.
Exercise with moderate intensity, make yourself tired, and you’ll hit the sack and sleep like a baby. Exercise too hard, and you’ll find it very hard to fall asleep.
It’s normal to feel excited after a workout. In fact, it’s one of the reasons that makes some people become fitness addicts. Not that there’s anything wrong about it, but do know that it’s a great feeling to push through a hard workout.
What are you waiting for? Start exercising today. Enjoy greater fitness and better health.