Exercising On Poor Sleep

I’ve been struggling to get enough sleep this week. It’s entirely my fault… just some poor decisions that led me to stay up a lot later than I should. The lack of sleep caused me to miss workouts and decrease intensity in the workouts that I did get in.


I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been in this situation. Ahh well… it happens. What can we do about it now?


The first step is to get caught up on sleep. If our sleep isn’t right then everything else falls apart. Among other things, sleep deprivation can cause a weakened immune system, brain fog, and worsened balance and coordination. These are not good things for our health and our training!


The best way to catch up on sleep is to plan ahead. I’m thinking about all the things I need to do to make sure I don’t HAVE to stay up late tonight. I’m also planning ahead for the next few days because it usually takes multiple nights of good sleep to get back on track.


Once you have your plan in place for catching up on sleep we have to make a decision about how to approach our scheduled workouts. Executing our workouts at peak intensity is pretty much out of the question when we’re sleep deprived, so the question becomes, “Do we skip our workout, or do we do a lighter workout?” The answer to this question depends on a lot of factors, but ultimately you have to make a call. Here are a couple things to consider:


  • How severe is my sleep deprivation?

  • How many quality hours did I get last night?

  • How many nights of poor sleep have I had recently?

  • Do I expect to get good sleep tonight and the next few nights?


  • Are there other factors that are affecting my immune system and my ability to recover from exercise?

  • Am I stressed?

  • Am I eating poorly?

  • Am I sick?

  • Am I still recovering from a recent workout?


Everyone will have their own tolerance to handle any combination of these factors, but just make sure you consider each one of these before you make the call if exercising is a good idea.


Don’t let this become a recurring excuse for missing workouts. If you’re regularly missing workouts because of your inability to get good sleep, then it’s time to focus on solving the root cause of the problem. Find the necessary lifestyle change to get your sleep back on track.


Sometimes our workouts adapt to our sleep deprived life rather than the other way around, but these times should only be temporary slices in our lives.


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