Exercise vs. Sleep: Finding the Perfect Balance

In today’s world, many of us live extremely fast-paced lifestyles. We rush from meeting to meeting, then off to take the kids to a whirlwind of activities, finding little time for ourselves. Somewhere between all of the bustle, however, we need to find time to take care of our health.

Scheduling time to unwind, relieve stress, and do the things you love to do is paramount, and eating right to fuel your day is also of utmost importance. On top of that, we all need a good night’s sleep, and we all need regular exercise, in order to stay healthy.

So, what do we do when we are pressed for time, and feel like we have to sacrifice a workout to get our recommended seven to eight hours of sleep, or sacrifice an hour of sleep to wedge in a daily brisk walk or jog? Well, whenever possible, the absolute best solution is to find a way to do both, as they go hand in hand.

According to Cheri Mah, a Stanford University and University of California, San Francisco sleep medicine researcher, exercise and sleep are intrinsically intertwined. Mah states:

“When you look at the research, regular physical activity is important for high-quality sleep, and high-quality sleep is important for physical performance.”

Mah also explains that because so many of us are sleep deprived, we may not even recognize the symptoms of mild sleep deprivation. She says: 

“Lots of individuals think they can operate on less [sleep], but when you test them, you find they’re not performing at their best. They get used to feeling tired, and they think that’s the norm.”

Taking this into consideration, it makes sense that we cannot achieve our full workout potential if we’re lacking sleep. Also, if we lead sedentary lifestyles — even though many of us are so busy, we do a lot of our work sitting — it may be difficult for us to achieve quality restorative sleep.

How can we make sure that we get a good night’s sleep, and still have at least 30 minutes per day to get some physical exercise? The easiest solution is to look at the time you spend in front of digital media. Many people spend at least half an hour surfing the internet, or watching a television show, during their downtime. This is time that could be much better spent walking, running, or doing some strength training.

Young woman taking a break from exercising outsideAnother option is getting a walk or jog in during your lunch break. Or, if you do not have time for this, at least take the stairs, or walk instead of driving whenever you can. All of those steps during the day add up, and if you forgo the elevator for the staircase, you may have built a 30-minute workout into your day before you know it.

If you can, get your exercise in the morning or early afternoon, as this will energize you for the day, and set your body up for an excellent sleep at night.

When you have to choose…

Okay, okay, we get it — sometimes, despite all of the creative scheduling in the world, we are faced with the choice to either get some Z’s or get some exercise. If this is the case, opt for sleep.

On his CNN video series, “Living to 100,” Dr. Sanjay Gupta, chief of neurosurgery at Atlanta’s Grady Memorial Hospital, states:

“If I could do one thing in a particular day — either get another hour of sleep or do some exercise — sleep would actually probably win.”

However, try to reinvent your schedule so that you can fit both quality sleep and quality exercise into your schedule — because exercise is of vital importance, too!

—The Alternative Daily



Recommended Articles