sleep or exercise instead?

Should You Skip On Your Sleep And Exercise Instead?

Sometimes you just can’t do both. Should you sleep in for an extra hour (or go to bed earlier) to try to catch up on lost shut-eye? Or should you wake up and fit in a much needed workout?

So many of us are forced to make this decision every morning, and it’s a tough one. Which deserves priority? Sleep is obviously important. We literally cannot survive without it. But in a world where we all get at least a little bit of sleep each night, physical fitness may be just as important. It takes on that little task of increasing longevity, overall health and happiness. So, which to prioritize? Let’s take a closer look at each to find out:

EXERCISE

We all understand the importance of exercise. Reduce the risk of disease, feel stronger and more confident, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, improve focus, brain function and so much more. Plus, moving our bodies is fun. However, we live in a culture where it is trendy to struggle. It sounds crazy, but plenty of people push themselves through the hardest, most grueling workouts on 3 hours of sleep (for 5 nights running) while having consumed nothing but a milky latte prior.

Our trend towards intensity and suffering in fitness is not healthy, nor is it sustainable. This type of fitness actually increases stress, inflammation and cortisol levels in the body, which can make weight loss or disease-healing a bit more difficult. While fitness is important, you don’t need to push yourself that hard to be fit. Gentle walks and range of motion exercises are way more important than challenging cardio workouts. Yoga is a great balance of strength-building, lengthening and meditative fitness, for example. It is better to prioritize these types of workouts over the WOD at your Crossfit box.

Of course, we also have the opposite issue: as a nation, we sit too much. We all know that sitting kills, and exercise is the only way to counter that. But, if you’re getting 5 hours of sleep a night and sitting all day in an office, does the need for exercise trump the need for sleep?

SLEEP

One-third of Americans do not get enough sleep. Many of us are deep in sleep debt, making lack of sleep a real public health issue almost equally as widespread as obesity.

Think there is not much harm in skipping out on a couple hours a night? Over time, sleep deprivation can be extremely harmful. Since sleep promotes hormone regulation, especially of the appetite, it can amplify the negative effects often associated with overeating or lack of exercise like weight gain and insulin resistance. In fact, sleep deprivation can make you fatter, less disease resistant and more prone to depression. It increases the risk for diabetes, heart disease, hormonal imbalance and obesity.

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