Sleep vs Exercise

Every morning my alarm goes off I have an internal battle. My body is engulfed by a cozy blanket and it does not want to get up. My instinct is to roll over and hit snooze on the alarm for another 40 minutes because my body is telling me that bed is awesome. There is another side, however, which starts to think about the workout I planned on doing this morning. It remembers the way I carefully got my workout clothes ready and debates how crappy I will feel if I miss the exercise. Usually this side wins and I drag myself out of bed but never regret it.

There are some days though were I seriously wonder what is better for weight loss and my overall health – sleep or exercise? We all have those nights where we just can’t sleep for whatever reason, and in the mornings afterwards getting up a little bit early really does throw us off. While it may be hard to know knowing that your gym clothes are sitting by the door waiting, it does come down to one thing, sleep and exercise are equally as important.

I feel like we can be our own worst enemies as we push ourselves to the limits and often work our bodies into an over-tired state. I know I am guilty of getting caught up in the guilt of skipping a day, thinking that it will magically make me gain weight overnight. While it is hard, we need to force ourselves to take rest days, they are such an important part of being healthy. Rest days gives your muscles a chance to change and grow stronger, as well as giving you mental break from the work. Sleep is when our bodies change their composition and grow stronger, missing it to get in a few extra kilometers or weights is not going to do your hard work any favors.
Countless studies show that when our bodies are tired it slows down our metabolisms and we hold on to fat much more easier. This comes down to two hormones, leptin and ghrelin, which regulate our appetite. Ghrelin is produced by your stomach, leptin by fat cells; and they work together to tell your body when it is full and satisfied. If you aren’t getting enough sleep the these hormones are going to e out of whack and your ability to resist snacking on sugar and junk is weakened. I am sure you have noticed that having a bad nights sleep results in some bad cravings the next day!
Sleeping is also good for our mental approach to exercise. If we are dragging ourselves out of bed and being pushed to the limits, chances are you are going to develop some negative feelings. It can be really frustrating to fall out of love (or like) with something you enjoy and is so important to your health. If you are really dreading that early morning wakeup, re-evaluate how often you are working out each week. If you aren’t taking 1-2 rest days, now is the time to start.
Basically, being overtired means that your workout may be a little counter-productive. not only does it affect how your body changes and grows stronger, but it also affects your diet and healthy eating mindset. If you are working yourself into overdrive like this because you are worried that missing a day will un-do all of the good work you have done you really do need to force yourself to stop.  

Next time you are unsure about sleeping or working out, think seriously. How much exercise have you already done this week? Chances are this is a once off and skipping a morning isn’t a regular occurence for you. Take a look at how many hours sleep you have been getting and if it hasn’t been the recommended 8 a night for a few days then sleep is probably more beneficial then a tired, half-assed workout.
At the end of the day it is simple, sleep, exercise and eat well to be a healthy person. Our bodies are good at telling us what they need, you just need to listen.


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