Sleep or Exercise? Both activities are critical for maintaining good health. But let’s be real; it’s much more fun to do an extra hour in bed instead of on the treadmill. Have you ever made the decision to wake up early in the morning to workout, only to find yourself feeling like an extra hour of sleep would be more beneficial to your body than forcing yourself to exercise?
But how can you tell if the desire for sleep is biologically dictated and not just procrastination? Is exercise even beneficial after a short sleep cycle? There is no quick, one-size-fits-all answer to this question, but looking at sleep/exercise research may help you make an informed decision when faced with those groggy “Should I really get up to work out?” thoughts in your head:
- Adequate sleep and exercise are both critical for optimum health
- Sleep and exercise promote one another – physical activity promotes high-quality sleep, and high-quality sleep promotes physical performance
- Adults need a minimum of 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night, but if you are averaging around this amount, it’s okay to skip a half hour of sleep a couple of times per week to get in a morning workout
- The CDC and American Heart Association recommend a minimum of 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise every week.
- Some experts, when absolutely pressed to choose one that would be considered more important, choose sleep. But (and this is a big but), it simply is not advisable to recommend opting out of exercise completely, and exercise should be considered a “must” for a healthy lifestyle.
**These facts are based on average adults. Those with sleep disorders or other health conditions that affect their ability to sleep or exercise should consult a health care professional when making decisions related to these activities.
For those who cannot find time for adequate sleep and exercise, try to evaluate and organize your schedule to:
- Go to sleep a little earlier so you don’t feel like you have to sacrifice sleep time.
- Schedule time in the evening to allow for exercise so you can sleep longer in the morning.
Once you make a conscious effort to live in a way that allows you to practice habits that are healthy – and that includes both adequate sleep and adequate exercise – you will feel much more balanced. We can’t take best care of others and our responsibilities until we take best care of ourselves.
Written by: Joanna Rini, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Medina County
Reviewed by: Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County