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Exercise and sleep deprivation: Should you exercise no sleep?



too tired to exercise

Pressing snooze or sliding on your sneakers?

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When I was in the throat of severe overtraining and struggling with the fact that my identity was wrapped in fitness (more precisely, how fit I was), I would train at any cost.

This was while I was in college, remember, so I was regular lose sleep for homework, studies and an evening out with friends. Anyway, no matter what, I would go to the gym every morning. Exercises every day without rest days is bad enough on its own – exercising every day without sleep is much worse.

The life culture that has led to difficult Burnout among the workforce has also infiltrated the fitness community. No one will argue against the fact that exercising is good for you. The benefits are great and undeniable. However, exercising without sleep is quite useless.

Trying to squeeze in a workout on top of other responsibilities (work! chores! errands! children!) seem pointless at times, and I’m here to say that it’s OK – necessary, in fact – to prioritize sleep over fitness when you can not do everything. Below I explain why, plus what to do when you do not have enough time for sleep and exercise.

Are you going to exercise on no sleep?

tired of the gym

Going to the gym after a night of poor sleep can make you dread your workouts.

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You may feel okay if you practice sleeping once in a while. Keep doing this, and you will probably spend every day feeling like you were hit by a truck. Sleep is the basis of all things, including fitness: Without sleep, the body will not do it recover from the stress of physical activity and your fitness will either plateau or begin to spiral downward.

Do not go for the gymnastics culture just to feel accomplished. You will not achieve much through a sleep deprived workout except for more fatigue and maybe a little hassle towards exercise.

There is a clear link between sleep and fitness: Research shows that insufficient sleep affects sports performance while adequate sleep improves performance. There is some debate about whether lack of sleep biomechanically affects your fitness abilities, but researchers believe that fitness performance decreases after sleep deprivation because exercise only feels more difficult. Most people already know this from their own experience. Everything feels tough without sleep.

In addition, lack of sleep can affect your motivation to exercise in the first place. You may feel like you dread your workouts and hate every minute in the gym – it’s not good for a long term connection to a fitness plan.

Conversely, you can get enough sleep to improve the likelihood that you will be encouraged to exercise in the morning.

Without sleep, your muscles will not be able to recover from the stress you put on them during exercise. It does not do you any good to continue to break down the muscles without giving them time to recover and become stronger.

Lack of sleep can also contribute to joint pain and stiffness as well as headaches and body aches. If you want to be even more nuanced, sleep deprivation can lead to poor food choices, which undoubtedly affect your fitness and physical performance.

What type of exercise is best when you are not getting enough sleep?

couple going for a walk outdoors

Instead of forcing yourself to do an intense workout, do something softer and more fun.

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This varies for everyone. Soft movement which you like is a good rule of thumb to go.

Taking a 30-minute walk in the sunshine followed by a 30-minute stretch is the antidote to a bad night’s sleep. I always feel updated and I still get endorphins rush from exercise. I also feel perfect and proud of myself for honoring what my body told me.

You can go for a leisurely bike ride, an easy to moderate hike or take a dip in a swimming pool. You can also dance around the living room, walk the roller coaster, practice a skill you want to learn (like nailing a handstand) or spend your regular training time getting some work on the farm.

Do something that makes you feel happy and up to date. This is about hitting the reset button for yourself, not doing any kind of exercise because you feel obligated to.

What to do when you do not have time for both

press snooze

Sometimes choosing snooze is the right choice.

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Honestly, the best thing you can do is just accept it. Sometimes you have time for both sleep and exercise, and sometimes you do not – that is the reality of modern society. Accept the phases of life and prioritize sleep.

However, this does not mean that you neglect all training. When you are not getting enough sleep, replace your usual intense workout with mild exercise, as described above.

If you find that you are constantly addicted to sleep and never have time for any form of exercise, it may be worth exploring how you spend your time. If you spend a lot of time on social media or watching TV, you can replace those valuable minutes with a little practice (you can even train while watching your favorite show!).

Science has shown us that sprinkle several short efforts the whole day can lead to huge health benefits. Instead of spending five minutes scrolling, try using the five minutes to go for a short walk, do some sets of bodyweight squats or work out your push-up shape.

Scheduling in time for movement has been the key to my success (and to the success of my personal training clients). Really: I write down my workouts in my planner every week and make it a point to treat these workouts as meetings or conference calls – with a pencil, I might add, in case I should delete or change a workout after a night of poor sleep .

When it comes to fitness, everything counts, even if all you can do today is park your car at the back of the lot so that you go further. Instead of the pervasive mindset “all or nothing”, you can try to assume something else: “always something.” You may be surprised at how easily exercise comes to you with this mindset, and your body will thank you for prioritizing sleep.

Take this into account the next time you discuss whether you want to hit snooze or slip on your sneakers.

The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a doctor or other qualified healthcare provider if you have questions about a medical condition or health goal.


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