As the sun goes down and the day comes to a close, many runners are just getting started. Running at night can be a convenient way to fit an exercise routine into a busy schedule, or simply a more enjoyable way to escape the heat and crowds of daytime workouts.
Are there any benefits to nighttime exercise? In this article, we explore the science of nighttime runs and take a closer look at how they can impact your body.
How running at night affects your body
Many people prefer running at night, either because it is the only time they have or because it is cooler and more peaceful than during the day. However, running at night can also have some effects on the body that may be different from running during the day.
Here are some ways in which running at night can affect the body:
1. Improved Sleep
2. Lowers Blood Pressure
3. Better Mental Health
4. Cooler Temperatures
How Running at Night Improves Sleep Quality
Certainly! Night running can affect sleep patterns for some individuals. While exercise in general is known to improve sleep, it's important to keep in mind that the timing of your workout can have an impact on your ability to get deep sleep or the hours of sleep you have.
Some people find that exercising a couple of hours before going to bed can interfere with their sleep patterns, as physical activity can increase heart rate and adrenaline interfering with the quality of sleep. Additionally, running can also stimulate the brain, making it more difficult to quiet the mind and relax.
However, this can vary from person to person. Some people may find that running at night actually helps them sleep better, as it allows them to release any pent-up energy from the day and feel more relaxed. Such people are able to fall into deep relaxing sleep less than an hour after their workout.
If you find that running at night is affecting your sleep habits, there are some things you can do to mitigate this. For example, try to finish your run early and avoid any vigorous activity at least 2-3 hours before sleep time, so that your body has time to cool down and relax.
Additionally, make sure to stretch and do some calming activities, such as reading or meditation before retiring to bed.
Ultimately, it's important to listen to your body and monitor your energy levels to determine what works best for you. If you experience the beneficial effects of running at night, keep it up! But if you find that it's affecting your sleep negatively, consider adjusting your routine to find a better balance.
Tips on How to Run at Night Safely
Wear Reflective Clothing
When you're running at night, it's crucial to make sure you're visible to others on the road or trail. Reflective clothing can help with this by reflecting light back to its source.
This makes it easier to be seen from a distance, especially for drivers. Look for clothing with reflective accents or buy reflective gear, such as a vest or jacket, to ensure that you're visible to other road users.
Related: How to stay safe and visible when running at night
While reflective clothing is important, it won't help you see where you're going. Using runners lighting is crucial for late night runs. Headtorches for runners, handheld flashlights, and clip-on lights can help you see what's ahead and avoid hitting obstacles on your path.
Choose a light that is bright enough to light your way, but not so bright that it blinds other night runners, pedestrians, or drivers. A good headlamp is a night owl's best friend. Night Buddy offers quality light accessories for you!
Stick to Familiar Routes
During night runs, it's easy to get disoriented and lost. Stick to routes you know well to avoid getting lost or finding yourself in unsafe areas. Familiar routes also allow you to anticipate any potential hazards, such as uneven terrain or poor lighting.
Run With a Partner
Running with a partner is a good way to stay safe on a nighttime run. Not only can you keep each other motivated, but you'll also be more visible to others on the road or trail. Running in pairs or groups can also deter potential attackers or predators, making it safer overally.
When doing late night runs, it's important to stay alert and focused. Keep an eye for potential hazards, such as potholes, curbs, or low-hanging objects. Be aware of your surroundings and stay vigilant to anything that seems out of the ordinary. Also, avoid wearing headphones or listening to music at a high volume, as it can limit your ability to hear potential danger.
Check the Weather
Before setting your nighttime training plans, check the weather forecast. If it's going to be raining, snowing, or foggy, the visibility will be even lower than usual. Consider postponing your run or choosing a well-lit route with good visibility.
Why You Need a Headlamp for Nighttime Running
Since nighttime is devoid of natural light a headlamp is an essential accessory for running at night. Here are some benefits of using a headlamp for your nighttime runs:
- Improved Visibility: A headlamp illuminates the path ahead, making it easier to see where you're going. This is especially important when running on trails or in areas with limited street lighting. Bright light can also help you avoid tripping on obstacles and hazards, such as rocks or tree roots.
- Hands-Free: Unlike handheld flashlights, headlamps allow you to keep your hands free while you run. This is especially beneficial for trail runners who may need to use their hands for balance or support.
- Enhanced Safety: A headlamp can make you more visible to others on the road or trail. It can also help drivers and other road users to see you from a distance, reducing the risk of accidents or collisions.
- Versatility:Headlamps can be used for other activities besides running, such as camping or hiking. This makes it a valuable investment for outdoor enthusiasts.
- Convenience: A headlamp is easy to use and can be adjusted to fit your head comfortably. It's also lightweight, so it won't weigh you down while you run.
Other exercises you can do at night
- Aerobic Exercise: Aerobic exercises, such as jogging, jumping jacks, or dancing, can be a great way to get the heart pumping and burn calories at night. Just be sure to avoid vigorous exercises that could disturb your neighbors or cause injury.
- Yoga: Practicing yoga at night can be a great way to wind down and relax. Yoga poses can help stretch and release tension in the muscles, making it easier to fall asleep.
- Strength Training: Strength training, such as weightlifting are high-intensity exercises, that can be done at night to help build muscle and increase strength. Just be sure to allow time for cooling down and stretching before bed.
- Pilates: Pilates is a low-impact exercise that can be done at night to help strengthen the core muscles and improve flexibility. It can also be a great way to de-stress and relax before bed.
- Walking: Taking a brisk walk at night can be a great way to get some exercise and clear your mind. It's a low-impact exercise that can be done anywhere and can be a great alternative to running for those who want to avoid the impact on their joints.
- Cycling: If you have access to a stationary bike, cycling can be a great way to get some cardiovascular exercise at night. It's low-impact and can be done at a moderate or high intensity depending on your fitness level.