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Sleep vs. Exercise: What’s More Important?

As we all know by now, there are only so many hours in the day. But that doesn’t seem to stop most of us from trying to squeeze in a crazy number of to-dos anyway.

Sleep vs. Exercise: What’s More Important? Special Photo

Between a jam-packed family schedule and/or working a full-time job, to doing basic things like eating and cleaning, how are we supposed to find time to exercise every week? Oh, and get a full 8 hours of sleep, too. Try as you might get it all in, something just has to give.

Too bad it can’t be work—right? Chances are, though, it’s going to be something else with a little more flexibility, like cutting a workout or shaving off a few hours of sleep. “The sad truth is, though, both of these things are a fundamental part of overall health and well-being,” notes Hira Kohli, MD, a primary care provider at GMG Primary Care-Suwanee.

So when the alarm clock is buzzing in the morning, should you hit snooze for an extra hour of ZZZ’s or should you get up to exercise? Before we declare the winner, let’s first take a quick look at the health benefits of each:

Sleep can help to: boost energy, improve memory, lower inflammation, channel creativity, maintain a healthy weight and lower stress.

Exercise can help to: improve mood, lower anxiety/stress, support weight loss, benefit muscle and bone health, boost energy, reduce health risks, improve skin health and promote a quality sleep.

“The bottom line is sleep and exercise both offer a treasure trove of health benefits, so much so, you don’t want to miss out on getting either one of them,” emphasizes Dr. Kohli. But the fact remains that there are days when you feel like you just have to choose—do you power through a workout when you’re tired or do you get some much-needed shuteye?

Now there isn’t a cut-and-dry answer for which one is hands-down the best, but here are a few tips to help you decide:

• What’s your workout track record? Would this be the first workout you’ve skipped in a few days or more like a few weeks? If it’s been a while, then it’s time to get out of bed and switch your PJs out for some exercise gear. Remember, going to exercise may never feel easy.

• How tired are you—really? There’s definitely a difference between the usual morning grogginess/afternoon slump, and true fatigue/exhaustion from way too little sleep. If you’ve been struggling to complete other daily activities, don’t drag yourself through a workout as this could lead to a less-effective sweat session and/or an injury.

• Can you make a compromise? You can’t push it every day, and we get that, but keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing when it comes to exercise. If you’re really feeling tired in the morning/afternoon, maybe you don’t head to the gym, but you opt for an at-home workout instead. Or you cut your exercise session down to 30 minutes instead of an hour.

• Are you planning for tomorrow? Sometimes all you need is a little extra motivation to get you up and moving—and what better motivation is there than a day off? Think of it this way, if you get up and exercise today, then you can reward yourself by sleeping-in tomorrow. And bonus, you’ll probably sleep even better after some activity.

• Are you overlooking something? The truth is that sleep and exercise are not only important for your health; they’re also the key to feeling your best day in day out. And the surprising thing is, they are complementary—the more you do one, the easier it will be to do the other. But if you’re struggling to thrive (even with 7-9 hours of sleep each night and regular exercise), there could be something more going on.

As the healthcare expert that knows you best, your primary care provider can help you overcome common health barriers that may make exercise and sleep more difficult. Whether it’s answering common health questions, using thorough diagnostics or providing the latest treatment options, the experts at GMG Primary Care will do all they can to support your lasting health. With convenient locations, like Lawrenceville and Suwanee, you can find expert health care that’s close to home. Find your future partner in lasting health by visiting gwinnettmedicalgroup. com/physicians.