Is it okay to skimp on sleep in order to fit in a workout?

Robert S. Rosenberg, DO, FCCP, a board-certified doctor of pulmonary and sleep medicine and the medical director of Sleep Disorders Center of Prescott Valley and Sleep Disorders Center of Flagstaff, responds: “If you are cutting back on your sleep on a routine basis, then the answer is no. In most cases, people are exercising to stay fit and trim. Lack of sleep can result in just the opposite. Insufficient sleep is associated with weight gain, impaired glucose metabolism and cardiovascular stress. It also weakens athletic performance and makes you much more vulnerable to injury. Several recent studies have demonstrated how athletic performance is directly related to sleep.

Another factor to consider is when you want to work out. If it is close to bedtime, it will negatively affect your ability to fall asleep. If it is early in the morning, before you usually arise, it may cut into your REM sleep. This can have adverse consequences with regard to emotional processing and certain types of memory consolidation.

My advice is to adjust your workout schedule so that it is coordinated with your sleep. Altering your sleep to accommodate your exercise schedule is counterproductive and a bad idea.”

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