Which is Worse, Skipping a Workout or Skimping on Sleep?

Here’s an unusual question for you: if you were given the choice to skip a workout or skip valuable sleep, which would you choose? I mean, we all have this choice, right? Out partying late and all you want to do is get some more sleep. Except you keep thinking you “should” get up and work out. So, which is it?


Ready! Set! Choose!


If you chose to skip your work to get more sleep on sleep, you chose well, and you’re well on your way towards creating a healthier weight and body composition. You’d also be helping rejuvenate your brain, giving your body a chance to heal and actually benefit from the exercise you do, regulating your hunger hormones and adding power to your immune system. This leads to promoting better relationships with those closest to you and of course turbocharging your ability to work out when you do!


Yep, that’s what all of the contemporary research points to on the value of restorative sleep. It’s wise to give yourself permission to recover, to rejuvenate and reenergize if you’ve been pushing it too hard and not getting enough sleep.


Just in case you aren’t fully aware of the risks of sleep deprivation, here are the ones to pay attention to:


Risks of Sleep Deprivation


Memory Impairment

Simply put, if you get less than a minimum of six hours of sleep each night and you’ll lose accuracy in your memory banks. Ideally, you want to get seven to eight hours of sleep a night.


Mood Impairment


That’s right, loss of sleep puts a negative spin on what you see, how you interpret people and events, and leaves you more emotionally volatile.


What Happened to Your Sense of Humor?

You lost some of that with loss of sleep. That slurred speech coming from you when you skimp on sleep isn’t coming from trying to be funny, it’s a part of impaired language function among the sleep deprived.


“C’mon! Pay attention

With inadequate sleep comes increased difficulty staying focused, impaired visual sensory processing, and a general head-in-the-air feeling. No one likes hearing: “Focus!” throughout the day.


Middle of the Night Binges

Sleep too little and you’ll eat too much due to hormone changes and decreased activity in the area of your brain dealing with healthy decision-making.


One study found that those who averaged six hours or so of sleep a night had about one inch more on their waistlines than those who were able to average about nine hours a night.


What About Your HDL?

Not getting enough sleep leads to reduced levels of HDL cholesterol, which are the “good” kind of cholesterol that removes “bad” from the body.


Finally, sleeping less than the minimum six hours will lead you to cut short your workouts if you can even get yourself motivated to go to the gym in the first place. And get this – once you begin skimping on your workouts, you’ll be in a cycle of impaired sleep as well.


Simply put: We need sleep and exercise.


If life is one continuous choice between “Should I get myself out of bed now or hit the snooze and get more needed sleep?” Something’s wrong in your daily schedule and routine that more careful planning can readily repair and get you back on course.


So, it’s time to reexamine your thinking about the “sleep-exercise continuum” to understand how you can help get the best out of both by giving your best to each.


In fact, my famous hashtags are: “#ThinkBetter to #FeelBetter to #EatBetter to #MoveBetter to #SleepBetter to #LiveBetter.” Optimal health rests on each of these in proper measure.

Dr. Michael Mantell

Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has been providing psychological and coaching services for nearly 5 decades and continues to empower positive change among his global clients to enhance life in every way. He is a highly sought-after healthcare professional coach, an executive and team building consultant, and a longtime specialist in cognitive behavioral coaching.

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