The alarm goes off, the snooze goes on. You are just not quite ready to get out of bed. Maybe you have not been sleeping well lately, or maybe you are just too tired. Either way, the exercise class you are scheduled to attend looks like it may have one less participant.
When faced with decisions like this, what is the correct answer? Should you get up and exercise, or should you go back to sleep. The answer is not always the same.
Are you Physically Tired?
Trying to determine whether or not you are mentally or physically tired will help you achieve the answer to the aforementioned question. Being physically tired, like having lack of sleep, can cause an increase in cortisol in your system. Combine this with a high intensity workout and your cortisol levels will increase further.
High cortisol levels are also common when levels of stress are elevated. Maintaining high cortisol levels can lead to a decrease in your immune system, digestive stress, blood pressure fluctuations, and a breakdown of muscle. When exercising you naturally breakdown some muscle tissue, however it is important to rest and build back the muscle tissue. High cortisol levels will prevent you from achieving the goal of working out in the first place. Therefore, getting a little more sleep may be better than trying to workout.
Are You Mentally Tired?
Maybe you have had a long week at work and your body, and brain, are not ready to exercise. This is another time when sleep may be more advantageous. Our brains need just as much rest as our bodies. The extra sleep will allow our body and brain to heal and recover.
If you are not mentally tired, but just lacking motivation, then forcing yourself to exercise may be the perfect remedy. Once you develop the new habit of exercising, you will need less motivation to get going the next time. Plus, exercise is a great stress reliever. Having a consistent workout program will help you de-stress and lower your cortisol levels.
I have been working with patients for many years, and I always tell them to listen to their body. You will know yourself better than anyone else ever will. Trust your gut. If you feel like you will benefit from extra sleep, then cover up and close your eyes. If you typically feel better after a great exercise session, then get out there and have fun.
Dr Spencer Charlet