Your alarm is going off, and the sound is more painful than usual because you stayed up late and then tossed and turned all night. You push yourself every moment of the day, but you know you still need to exercise. Should you work without sleep? Or should you skip the workout altogether?
Should I work without sleep?
The short answer is no – it’s not a good idea. Lack of sleep can adversely affect exercise form, concentration, performance and muscle growth, according to Dr. Robert S. Rosenberg, who is board-certified in sleep medicine and the author. The Doctor’s Guide to Sleep Solutions for Stress and Anxiety.
“The bottom line,” he says, “is that you need to realize how important your sleep is when you decide to exercise regularly.” So if you’re really tired, instead of working through sleep deprivation, you might consider rescheduling your next Beachbody On Demand workout for another day. Like, tomorrow.
To make sure you’re more rested and ready next time, Dr. Rosenberg recommends setting and sticking to a consistent sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine six to seven hours before bed and turning off all devices that emit blue light an hour before bed. .
if you still Struggling, you can also try natural relaxation remedies like meditation — or maybe it’s time to spring for products that can help, like blackout curtains and the right mattress.
How Lack of Sleep Can Affect Your Workout
1. Poor form and concentration
When you’re operating on no sleep — or even less than optimal sleep — your focus suffers. And if you’re not focused, you won’t be able to maintain proper form, increasing your chance of injury. This is especially important if you have large compound exercises like deadlifts and squats to perform.
Of course, you should aim for a sportier type of workout. “Lack of sleep decreases reaction time,” explains Rosenberg. So if your workout involves, say, an instructor throwing a medicine ball at your face, you can see how important reaction time can be.
2. Decreased performance
In a small study of Stanford University’s women’s tennis team, players first kept their normal sleep schedule for two to three weeks while doing sprinting and hitting drills.
Then, they were asked to prioritize getting a 10-hour night’s sleep for five to six weeks. The results showed a correlation between those who got more sleep and those who showed improved performance in their drills. The study’s lead author, Cheri Mah, MS, said several of the athletes who participated in the study realized for the first time that sleep was an important factor in their athletic performance.
3. Increased pain perception
No one wants their workout to feel harder than it has to be, but when you’re working out on little sleep you’re not giving your body enough downtime to recover—which means you may end up winning more than usual. Lack of sleep “lowers your pain threshold,” says Dr. Rosenberg, “so you’re more likely to experience pain during and after a workout.”
4. Impaired growth and recovery
Many people don’t realize the powerful effect sleep has on building muscle. “We release most of our growth hormones during sleep,” explains Dr. Rosenberg. “Lack of sleep can hinder your body’s ability to recover from exercise and inhibit muscle growth.”
5. Decreased motivation
Of course, to build those muscles, you first need to be motivated to work out. “People who don’t get enough sleep are more moody, anxious and tired, which makes them less motivated to exercise,” says Dr. Rosenberg.
If you’ve been sleeping a lot but still need some motivation, check out these 28 training quotes.
How do I know if I’m getting enough sleep?
So how much sleep is enough? The National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours of sleep per night. But everyone is different – the key is to listen to your body. “If you wake up feeling refreshed and you don’t feel tired during the day, you’re probably getting enough sleep,” says Dr. Rosenberg.
Of course, many people struggle to get the sleep they need. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in three adults does not get at least seven hours of sleep each night.