There are only so many hours in a day, so we have to prioritize how we spend our time. For some folks, that means forcing themselves to wake up at 5am so they can squeeze in a workout, but it may leave them exhausted. So is it better to wake up early to exercise or skip it in order to sleep longer? According to personal trainer Stephanie Mansour, it all depends on a few factors.
She points out that both sleep and exercise are important to our energy levels, physical fitness and overall health. But when forced to choose, which one should you prioritize? Mansour explains that a morning fitness routine can be an amazing habit because it gets the workout done first thing and starting the day with a healthy choice makes you more likely to make more healthy choices during the rest of the day. And if you’re consistently getting enough sleep, she says a morning workout is a great goal.
But she says there are certain circumstances when sleeping is more important than exercise:
- If you’re sleep-deprived - Your workouts won’t be as effective if you’re dragging and not getting enough sleep can also affect our eating habits and makes it more likely you’ll reach for sugary foods for an energy boost. So if you’re not getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night, make that a priority first.
- If you’re not currently working out - If you’re new to exercise, making it a habit is a hurdle to overcome and Mansour suggests focusing on that habit before adding in the whole waking up early thing.
- If you’re stressed out - Chronic stress causes levels of cortisol - the “stress hormone” - to rise and to reduce it, our bodies need rest. High stress people may also have a hard time unwinding before bed, so making those seven to eight hours of deep sleep should be the goal.
- But you still need to be active - While it’s okay to focus on improving sleep quality and quantity, you still want to squeeze in movement where you can, you just don’t have to wake up at dawn to do it.