Balancing Sleep and Morning Exercise

You need sleep and exercise, but how do you get the best of both worlds?


By Christin Passarelli


We’ve all been there. You are sound asleep in your bed, warm because you are wrapped in your blankets like a giant human burrito of happiness. All of a sudden your alarm clock goes off. You open your eyes to see it’s still dark outside. You still feel so tired that you hit snooze and fall back asleep only to be ripped away from your slumber once again. You wanted to work out before work, but clearly you are too tired to do so... Or are you? Is your mind playing tricks on you or do you really need more sleep?

What do research studies have to say about the sleep versus exercise in the morning debate? Scientists overwhelmingly state that if a choice needs to be made, choose sleep if you are not getting proper rest. Your body uses sleep to recover from exercising, and taking time away from that prevents your body from recovering properly. In addition, inadequate sleep hinders athletic performance. Since everyone wants to perform their best, what are some suggestions for getting enough sleep?

Sleep Recommendations

In order to function properly, sleep is essential. The National Sleep Foundation has done extensive research regarding the number of hours adults need to sleep each night and suggest getting between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night. They also state that it’s okay to sacrifice sleep a few times a week, but do not recommend doing this every day.

Cutting down on sleep can have serious consequences. Motivation levels are significantly lower when not getting proper sleep. Work productivity isn’t as good and motivation to exercise is lower. In addition, you are more likely to make bad food choices and overeat when tired. Even scarier, if you aren’t making sleep a priority, your chances of obesity increase. Therefore, creating a schedule that allows adequate sleep is essential.

If the alarm goes off and you slept less than 7 hours, reschedule your morning workout to the afternoon, and reset your alarm clock for a later time. If muscles aren’t given enough recovery time through sleep, injury can occur. It’s better to move a workout than miss several weeks due to injury.

To ensure you are getting quality sleep, use an app to track sleep habits. Azumio has a great app called Sleep Time, which is also now integrated within Argus. You place your phone by your bed and it tracks your sleep throughout the night. It will show when you are sleeping is heaviest, lightest, and times you wake up throughout the night. This app is good for checking to make sure your sleep habits are on track.

Exercising in the Morning

Choosing to exercise in the morning can be a struggle, but extremely beneficial. Starting the day with a workout can help you stay on track with nutrition. Exercising first thing in the morning not only helps prevent craving comfort foods, but it also helps keep nutritional choices on track. In fact, people tend to consume less calories when they exercise in the morning.

Incorporating exercise into your morning routine can also help with work productivity. Even though it takes a lot of energy in order to exercise, working out actually increases energy levels and increases alertness. This means productivity throughout the day will be increased.

Be realistic about time though. If proper rest is cut, perhaps the morning workout needs to be moved or your bed time needs to be changed. When the body is already tired, then required to exert excess amounts of energy, fatigue can occur. Chances are, if you are setting an alarm to workout in the morning, you are health conscience, so make the decision that is best for your body.

But What if I Can’t Get Up?

If you are getting the recommended hours of sleep but still can’t get up, the issue is getting yourself motivated to get out of bed. Chances are, if you are getting quality sleep for at least seven hours, you just don’t want to leave your bed. Again, you are trying to make the healthy choice, but are struggling to do so. Here are some tips to help get you going in the morning.

Place the alarm clock on the other side of the room.

Most likely the real issue in the morning is leaving the comfort of your warm bed. To alleviate this problem, place your alarm clock across the room so you need to get out of bed in order to turn it off. This will force you to get out of bed and help make a workout happen.

Drink a cup of coffee.

A lot of people need a little caffeine boost in order to get going in the morning. If you need caffeine to get going, having a cup of coffee will be beneficial. In fact, having a cup of coffee may even help you have a better workout. It has been shown to be beneficial with strenuous workouts. Just make sure to limit yourself to one cup of coffee, so as not to overwork your heart.

Go to bed earlier.

Ideally, we should wake up on our own every morning. If possible, go to bed earlier so waking up early in the morning will not be an issue. You will have a good night’s sleep and be refreshed when you wake up, making it easier to get out of bed and begin exercising.

Grudgingly get up.

This is obviously not ideal, but if you can force yourself to get up for a few weeks, it will be easier to do it in the future. The hard part about beginning a morning exercise routine is making it a habit. Once you’ve established a routine, getting up will be easier. Again though, make sure you had at least 7 hours of sleep.

The moral of the story is to get proper rest and set exercise times that allow proper sleep so you can perform your best. If sleep times are adequate, but you are still struggling to get up, try to find ways to force yourself out of bed. In order to be your absolute best, rest and exercise are both essential. It’s just important that smart and healthy decisions are made.

Christin currently teaches English in a Chicago suburb. Her time as a teacher helped her understand the importance of physical and mental health. Because of her interest in health, she went back to school and received a Masters of Arts in School and Community Counseling. With a desire to help others, Christin began blogging in the hopes of showing others how physical health can lead to a happier life.

Main Photo Credit: daizuoxin/; Second Photo Credit: lenetstan/; Third Photo Credit: DenisFilm/; Fourth Photo Credit: AE.Panuwat Studio/; Fifth Photo Credit: Africa Studio/; Sixth Photo Credit: Worldwide/

Fri Nov 13 09:34:21 UTC 2015

I'd suggest something here as an answer - but it involves exercising in bed and I don't see an activity on the app for that!

Wed Nov 18 11:33:45 UTC 2015