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  • Writer's pictureTeresa Conrad

Should I Sleep or Go Workout?

So you have a choice. Set your alarm 1.5 hours earlier to go lift, or get that 1.5 hours of zzz's. . Which do you choose?

Tough choice. Sleep is essential for a healthy immune system and injury-prevention, but exercise can contribute to better, sounder sleep.

Both go and in hand. “When you look at the research, regular physical activity is important for high-quality sleep, and high-quality sleep is important for physical performance,” says Cheri Mah, a sleep medicine researcher at Stanford University and the University of California, San Francisco. Sleep is the base of a healthy mind and body. It contributes to your mood, energy, memory, appetite and many other health variables.

Everyone is different, but experts recommend 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Many of us occasionally wake up feeling groggy and on the fence about what to do. If you're a little more tired than usual, just suck it up and work out. An occasional night of bad sleep won't kill you. And it's too easy to get into the habit of pressing the snooze button. But if you're extremely exhausted, get some sleep. Chances are you’d slack off on your workout anyway, and you’ll end up feeling weaker, crabbier and even more spaced out than before. Just let your trainer know lol.

Keeping a regular schedule of sleep is important for a steady circadian rhythm. Without that, you may feel sleepy at odd hours of the day, struggle to fall asleep at night and have a weird appetite. A Northwestern study showed our muscles also follow that circadian cycle, meaning if you’re working out during the time when you’re normally asleep, your muscle repair will be less efficient.

Sometimes, all it takes is cutting down 30 minutes TV time to save yourself some zzz's. But one shouldn't be sacrificed for the other. If you can't get enough sleep to hit the gym in the AM, then you'll need to find some activity time later. Split up your workouts if you need to (15 minutes in the morning, 15 minutes at lunch time, 15 minutes at night). A short walk is better than nothing. If you need to, try to keep it to 2-3 days waking up early for a workout and save the other days to sleep in.


Be honest with yourself. It's okay to occaionally exercise when you're a little tired or skip exercise for sleep when you're drained, but don't make a habit of either. Make your health a priority. Where can you make some healthy changes to give yourself more time? Can you get to bed earlier? Can you cut down on scrolling through Facebook and Instagram?


1. What activities can you cut down on to save yourself time for some sleep or a workout?

2. If you have a hard time waking up, move your workout outside.

3. Set a time limit for how long you're on social media.


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