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Sleep or Exercise – Which Should You Choose

Q & A: If I have to choose between an extra hour of sleep or working out, what’s better for my health?  Which one is more important?

A: Neither is more important because both are absolutely essential.  This is like asking me which one of my children I’d sacrifice [a] Josie, or [b] Nora.  No matter how much they’re getting on my nerves the answer is [c] neither – I’ll figure out how to keep both my children.

Situational advice depends on if this dilemma is rare or common. 

If you stayed up late streaming something, or had an awful night’s sleep and are dragging ass, then my advice is to adult this.  In other words:  suck it up and get to your workout

You didn’t get enough sleep. You are going to be dragging ass no matter what.  Nobody feels like working out when they’re exhausted, and adults don’t run their lives based on their feelings.  Your tiredness can’t be undone, but you can avoid making things worse by not adding “neglecting of fitness” to your list of mistakes today.  Additionally, being extra tired tonight because you got up at your normal time and did your workout will massively increase the odds of good sleep tonight and better energy tomorrow.

But, it’s just one…
“But it’s just one workout, how much does it matter?”  A lot. Very diligent adults workout 2-3 days per week, so skipping one workout could be half your workouts for the week.  Half is a lot. 

Additionally, our habits are not what we wish or say they are, but what we actually do.  Skipping because you’re tired builds the habit of skipping when you don’t “feel it.”  Nobody has even a month of “feeling it” or “feeling like it.”  Habits are the product of repetition: each skip or show strengthens itself as a habit.  The easy way, skipping in this case, is always more pleasurable, and therefore reinforcing, in the short term.

If you are finding yourself choosing between sleep and exercise nearly each time you are supposed to workout, then the answer is to stop choosing.  This is way easier said than done.  Way.  I can tell you it’s worth it.  I can’t tell you how to resolve this conflict, but here’s someone who can.

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