Your alarm goes off an hour early, and you’re instantly regretting your decision to get up earlier to exercise. It’s the classic dilemma–do you put your alarm on snooze and get an extra hour of sleep, or do you get up to exercise? However, what is more important, and should you sleep in?
Sleep & exercise are both important. Sleep helps you recover and repair sore muscles after exercising and helps with memory & focus. Then, exercise helps improve sleep & your health. However, if you feel constantly sore, lacking focus, and tired then sleep is better than exercise until you recover.
Sleep and exercise go hand-in-hand, as the proper balance gives you the energy you need to get through your day. If sleep eludes you, you can find the possible solution in the article.
How Much Sleep Do You Need?
Adults need between six and eight hours of sleep per night. However, sleep experts say that towards the end of your sleep cycle, you only get one or two hours of good sleep where it is the most restful.
So if you’re committed to a new exercise routine that starts an hour earlier than you’re used to getting up in the morning, you won’t miss out on a lot of deep, restful sleep.
When you’re asleep, there are four stages of sleep that your body goes through each night to repair your body and mind.
- Stage one is when you fall asleep and transition to a sleep state from an awake state.
- Stage two involves your body temperature dropping, and your heart rate slows down as your brain produces different waves called spindles.
- Stage three is where your deepest sleep occurs, and everything slows down while your muscles relax.
- Stage four is REM sleep, where your brain becomes more active, giving you dreams.
These stages happen relatively quickly, and you can go through several cycles of these stages during a full night’s sleep.
Stages three and four are where you gain most of your energy for the next day, but if you’re not getting much sleep during these stages, you won’t have the energy to exercise later.
How Much Exercise Do You Need?
Many doctors and fitness coaches advocate for adults getting 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily, with an increased heart rate at least part of the time.
Exercise stimulates your metabolism, boosts your energy, and balances your hormones, which can enhance your overall mood. If you don’t exercise, even with gentle activity, your muscles start getting weak, and you stop having the energy you need to get through your day.
You might not need to work out intensely or workout several hours per day to reap the exercise benefits. If you start exercising, take a walk around the block at a brisk pace, and work up to 30 minutes per day. Or get outside to work in your garden for a little while and work up a small sweat.
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An added benefit to working out is that it moves the fluid within your lymphatic system, preventing a buildup of fluid that could cause lymphedema. When you’re inactive, this fluid doesn’t move on its own, so it just sits there. Even getting up to stretch once every hour will keep this fluid moving.
However, if you skip a workout for a few days, you won’t have the same consequences as you would when you skip a few days of sleep.
When you miss even one night of sleep, your reaction times are down, and you don’t have the energy to work out.
Sleep and Exercise Complement Each Other
When you get enough sleep, you have the energy to exercise, but your sleep gets better if you exercise at least 30 minutes a day. Sleep and exercise work together to help you be healthy, so you need both.
So, when you’re turning off the snooze button and debating on whether to get up or stay in bed that extra hour, look at how you feel.
If you can get up without a lot of trouble, you could more than likely get up and work out. On the other hand, if you didn’t get a lot of restful sleep the night before, you might want to stay in bed for that extra hour.
Since sleep and exercise complement each other, it comes down to how your body feels. If you’re not a morning person, try working out in the afternoon or evening rather than the morning. Listen to your body and exercise when it makes sense for you to do so. Don’t push yourself more than your limits allow.
How To Get Enough Quality Sleep
Now that you know that you need both sleep and exercise and that getting enough sleep daily can boost your performance, how can you get enough quality sleep?
Several factors can affect your sleep, including having caffeine after a certain time or eating a full meal too close to bedtime. A quality mattress that doesn’t sag or poke you can greatly influence your sleep as well.
Try the following tips to enhance your sleep to have more energy for exercising.
Avoid Caffeine After Mid-Afternoon
If you’re sensitive to caffeine and cannot rest if you have some after a certain point during the day, try to avoid all products that contain caffeine. Even if you aren’t sensitive to it, you might want to avoid caffeine after mid-afternoon or early evening, especially if you need to get up early the next morning.
Make Your Room the Correct Temperature
Humans need a constant temperature to be comfortable enough to sleep. For some, the room needs to be cool, but for others, the room needs to warm. Before you go to bed, try adjusting your room temperature so you are neither too hot nor too cold. If you need a fan, place one in your room and set it on the lowest setting that you’re comfortable with.
Have Your Last Meal at Least Four Hours Before Bedtime
If you eat a meal too close to bedtime, your body will be too busy digesting the food to make repairs and let you truly rest. Also, if you’re prone to acid reflux, eating a meal before bed can cause the acid to build while you’re sleeping, and you might inhale it into your lungs. If that happens, you won’t get a lot of quality sleep that night.
Invest in a Quality Mattress
A quality mattress that doesn’t sag or poke you can mean the difference between tossing and turning all night to find a comfortable spot or waking up the next morning in the same spot you fell asleep in. If you have an old mattress, consider investing in a new one to get better sleep.
Natural supplements like melatonin and valerian root can help you get to sleep naturally and with few side effects.
Valerian promotes restful sleep as a natural sedative, while melatonin works with your natural melatonin secreted from your pituitary gland. You have more natural melatonin at night, which is why the supplemental form is highly recommended for a good night’s sleep.
Sleep and exercise go hand-in-hand to promote health and longevity. Neither is more important over the long term, but if you don’t get enough quality sleep, you could end up with the following issues:
- Poor immunity
- More brain fog
- Poor concentration
- Slow reaction times
- Faster weight gain
Additionally, experts say that if you exercise too close to bedtime, you will be too active to go to sleep. Try not to exercise less than an hour before you go to bed so that your body has time to relax and cool down.
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