Is Sleep More Important Than Exercise?
People ask me about sleep all the time. Should I wake up at 5am to squeeze in some exercise before I head to work? If I’m exhausted, is it okay to skip my workout and get some extra sleep instead? A lot of folks wonder if working out trumps sleep or vise versa. I’m here to tell you the answer… sometimes sleep is actually more important. That was a huge shock to me when I first learned about how sleep affects our overall health. If it was a shock to you too, then I’m about to rock your world.
Of course exercise is important. In fact, it’s vital to our health and longevity. (Assuming you’d like to live longer than the national average life expectancy of 75) But there are times when our body needs sleep so much more than that trip to the gym. Why is that you ask? According to Dr. Rubin Naiman, sleep disorders are the #1 health problem in the U.S. We are a society that is dependent on stimulants and carbs for energy. Without going in to a long scientific explanation, these stimulants and carbs lead to chronic inflammation, which leads to sleep disruption. Sleep disruption interrupts our production of leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is the hormone that tells our body we are full. Ghrelin is the hormone that stimulates our appetite. When those two hormones are thrown off balance by poor sleep, our appetite increases and our bodies require more food to make us feel full. That leads to weight gain. Does that mean that getting more sleep could result in weight loss? In some cases, yes!
If gaining weight doesn’t scare you enough to get more sleep then consider this… people who don’t get 7-8 hours of good quality sleep per night (stress “good quality”) have a 50% increased risk of…
o Insulin resistance
o Cardio Vascular Disease
o Mood disorders (Anxiety, depression, etc.)
Now that I have totally freaked you out, let me tell you what you can do to get a better night’s sleep.
o Dim the lights in your house at least 1 hour before bedtime
o Reduce or eliminate caffeine
o Reduce or eliminate alcohol consumption
o Reduce stress (think meditation and Yoga)
o Reduce or eliminate starchy food at dinner
o Make sure your bedroom is as dark as a dungeon
Now keep in mind, each of those suggestions opens a whole other topic of conversation, but at least you have somewhere to start. Feel free to contact me if you think sleep is an issue for you and would like some help in that arena. In a nutshell, I want you to know that sleep is imperative for a healthy mind and body and sometimes skipping the exercise to get a few more minutes of shut eye may make a huge difference.