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I'm tired but I need to hit the gym. To sleep or not to sleep?

Sometimes a workout is just the thing for getting ourselves out of that end-of-day rut. But is it ALWAYS the right answer?

Now that we’ve covered the importance of sleep, let's go through these key items in some detail as they pertain to the benefits gained from exercise.

Before we start, let's consider some reasons why you may be tired in the first place. While there are a MULTITUDE of reasons why you might be tired, here is an easy checklist:

  1. Water- have you had enough? This can be one of the most important contributors to your energy levels (or lack thereof). Water is a primary ingredient in most of the chemical reactions going on in our bodies, aids in digestion and allows our bodies to make use of nutrients.

  2. Food- have you had enough? Are you getting the right balance of nutrients? Once broken down into key macronutrients, the food we consume directly interacts with our water intake. This is the fuel our body (and brain) operate off of. Make sure you have enough!

  3. Caffeine- are you having too much? Plenty of research supporting or disproving the efficacy of caffeine abound, one thing for sure is that it is a nervous system stimulant. Because of this, our bodies can become dependent on its effects while having the normal waking processes of our bodies take a back seat. Too much can actually lead to a "crash" similar to too much sugar. Back off a bit if you notice that you are consuming too much throughout the day.

  4. Sitting- are you doing too much? As restful as sitting can be, it sends a signal to the body to slow down. Not to mention a seated posture squeezes and restricts circulation to key organs. Stand up, stretch, and get some steps in during your work day!

Sleep- Are you getting enough?

One of the easiest ways to make your workouts more effective is to GET. MORE. SLEEP.

  1. Cleanse the brain of toxins. Info processing. Its not secret that the brain contributes a lot to the quality of our workouts. Without enough sleep, our brains get "foggy" due the the lack of cleansing that occurs when we sleep. Think about when you leave a computer or your phone on without a reset for too long and it seems to slow down? Yeah, your brain does the same thing! Not only will the effectiveness of your workouts suffer, the likelihood for mistakes increases as well!

  2. Physical restoration. This alone is enough of a reason to get more sleep. A common misconception is that you are creating results in the gym- in actuality, your results come from allowing the body to recover. No matter if it's size, strength or performance you're going after, cutting sleep is not the answer!

  3. Mood regulation. Ever felt stressed? No, I mean REALLY stressed? Can you think of a time and then remember how your sleeping habits were? Probably not the best for one reason or another. Exercise can be an amazing stress reducer but if the body is fatigued and to its limit, it can absolutely work against you. Consider the importance that sleep, even a nap, can make the next time you are stressed out.

  4. Immunity. Here is another one where if you need to choose, sleep comes first. Exercise can be great for system immunity but much like stress, if the body is already compromised and fatigued it is MUCH easier to get sick. There's a reason why your body has the inclination to sleep whenever you get sick- get your sleep if you don't want the downtime associated with a cold!

Sleep is important. So is exercise!

I'm certainly not suggesting that you ditch every workout and replace them with sleep. These two functions (activity and rest) are complimentary by design. When an imbalance occurs, however, we experience negative side effects. Feeling tired and low energy can be the first warning signs of this imbalance. If you notice this, check with yourself and go over your checklist. It may be just what you need in order to stay on track!

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