Editor’s note: Seek advice from your healthcare provider if you suffer from chronic poor sleep and also before starting an exercise programme.
It’s the end of another long day at the office after a lack of sleep at night. As usual, you’re exhausted, but you want to stop at the gym on the way home for the exercise you need to stay healthy.
Should you exercise when you suffer from chronic sleep deprivation?
This conundrum is a widespread problem, given that 1 in 3 Americans are sleep-deprived, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“It’s definitely a two-way relationship, not one or the other,” says Dr. Phyllis Zee, director of the Center for Insomnia and Sleep Medicine at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago.
“First, there is clear data showing that regular exercise improves sleep quality — moderate exercise in the morning, afternoon, or very early evening can improve deeper sleep,” Zee said.
Deep sleep is the recovery phase in which your body repairs and restores itself. Also called “slow wave” sleep, it’s only possible if your sleep quality is good, with few or no nighttime interruptions.
“Research also shows that if you sleep better, you are more likely to be able to exercise and your physical activity levels will be higher,” Zee said.
“So I would say that even if you have a bad night’s sleep, you should keep your physical activity.”
For the body to be healthy, it needs to move through the four stages of sleep several times each night. During phases one and two, the body begins to slow down its rhythms. Doing so prepares us for stage three—deep, slow-wave sleep in which the body literally restores itself on a cellular level, repairing damage from the wear and tear of the day and consolidating memories into long-term storage.
Rapid eye movement sleep, called REM, is the last stage in which we dream. Studies have shown that losing REM sleep can lead to memory deficits and poor cognitive outcomes, as well as heart disease, other chronic diseases, and early death.
On the flip side, years of research has found that sleep, especially the deeper, more therapeutic kind, boosts immune function.
With each sleep cycle lasting approximately 90 minutes, most adults need seven to eight hours of relatively uninterrupted sleep to achieve restorative sleep and enjoy good health, according to the CDC. Sleep debt, along with irregular sleep periods, has been linked to an increased risk of obesity, heart disease, dementia, and mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.
One night of lack of sleep It shouldn’t affect your workout routine, but chronic sleep deprivation that leads to several days of exhaustion is another matter, experts say.
It may not be wise to go to the gym or exercise when you can barely put one foot in front of the other, said sleep specialist Dr. Raj Dasgupta, MD, associate professor of clinical medicine at Keck College at USC. Medicine.
“Without sleep, your muscles can’t recover from the stress you put them through during your workouts. It doesn’t do you much good to keep breaking down your muscles without giving them time to recover and grow stronger,” Dasgupta said.
Plus, you’re more likely to get injured when you’re stressed, he explained, due to slower reaction times from your tired brain working to make decisions during exercise or sports.
Lack of sleep can also affect your motivation to exercise in the first place. You may find yourself dreading regular workouts and hating every minute in the gym, which is not good for long-term commitment to a fitness plan,” said Dasgupta.
In addition, sleep deprivation can lead to making poor food choices, which affects your fitness and physical performance, he said.
So it’s not a good idea to work out when you’re very tired, but you’ll also sleep better and get more out of your workouts if you do. what is the answer?
Zi said, use common sense. “If you’re not sleeping well, don’t do that intense workout, right? Instead, you can go for a walk or do yoga, but definitely keep your exercise or physical activity regimen at the usual time of day that you would normally do.”
If you’re pressed for time, consider doing several short bouts of exercise throughout the day.
“Everything matters,” Dasgupta said. “Do anything that makes you feel happy and refreshed. It’s about hitting the reset button for yourself, not doing some exercise because you feel obligated to.”