Is It Better To Sleep In Or Exercise When You’re Tired?


What happens when you know you need to get a workout in, but you’re still tired? When should you tough it out and when should you tuck back in?

Exercise and sleep are like food and water; they’re two of the most important pillars for overall health, yet most people aren’t getting enough of either.

Research suggests that perceived exertion (how hard you feel you are working) is lowest in the late-afternoon, which makes it the best time to get training or a workout in. However, it’s also often the time when most people are at work and looking for that 3pm caffeine hit, not a HIIT class.

Lack of sleep weakens the immune system and has been attributed to weight-gain. Meanwhile, regular exercise has a cascade of benefits, including better sleep! The two go together like peas and carrots, and its difficult to get healthy doses of one without the other.

How much sleep should you get?

It doesn’t matter who you are, your brain and body require a minimum of 7-hours sleep each night. Many believe they can operate on less, but when they’re tested it becomes obvious that they are not performing at their best. People just get used to feeling tired, which becomes their new normal. (1)

Sleep Regularity & Midpoint

The key to sleep is consistency, that means going to bed and waking up at around the same time each day – even on the weekends. If you throw this schedule off too much you may feel tired at strange hours, while your energy, appetite and mood can fluctuate.

If you go to sleep around 10:30pm and wake-up around 7:30am, your sleep midpoint would be around 2:30am. If you are able to average between 7-8 hours/night of sleep and your midpoint stays roughly between 1:30am and 3:30am (+/- 1 hour), then you’re in a good spot to forgo that extra 30 minutes of sleep for your workout a few times a week. However, if you’re forcing yourself to get up 2 hours early and aren’t getting that 7-8 hours in, you’ll likely be doing more harm than good. (2)

Rule of thumb:

If you’re getting consistency in both sleep hours and sleep-midpoint, then it’s ok to get up a little early now and then. If not, it might be time to cut out a little bit of TV time before bed!