flickr | flattop341

flickr | flattop341

Do you ever go to bed with intention of getting up early to sneak in your workout before the day gets away from you? It's one of those things that sounds so good in your head but when the alarm sounds, it doesn't feel like such a good idea. This article from Huffington Post frames this classic sleep or exercise dilemma and talks about the lack of research to help solve the quandary. Let's dissect the problem at hand and get to the bottom of it so that the next time your alarm goes, off you're prepared to make the right call.

eventually you have to choose - tv or sleep

Here's what it comes down to: nobody ever wakes up and says "gosh I'm so glad that I watched one more episode of How I Met Your Mother on Neflix right before I went to bed - that really helped me to be a more productive person!" Cutting the TV off before bed at a reasonable hour is no easy task; it's like being at the bar around closing time - nothing good ever comes from ordering one more at last call! Get yourself an extra 30-60 minutes of sleep on the front end of the evening by having a bit of discipline - that rerun episode will still be there tomorrow night. This will help you to get more sleep and get more out of your time under the sheets. 

snooze rules

Even still, you might want to hit snooze. Here's how to approach the snooze button - if you can get 30+ minutes of extra sleep, then it's probably worth it. If you are hitting snooze for 30 minutes or less, just get up and get going. Nobody ever said at the end of a long day "I'm so thankful that I got that extra 12 minutes of sleep after I hit the snooze button today, it really made my day better!" 

is early morning exercise even good for you?

"But TD, if I do end up hitting snooze and I miss my morning workout, am I flushing away a great chance to make fitness gains?" Not necessarily, you still have options. First of all, frequently launching into long and intense bouts of training early in the morning might not be the best thing for your body anyhow. Everyone is different and for some, morning exercise is easy and in the comfort zone but, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems don't operate at their peak until the afternoon. 

RELATED: Why Most Olympic Records are Broken in the Afternoon - Your Body's Best Time For Everything

solution for getting greedy with the snooze button

Regardless of whether early morning training is good for you or not, I hate training in the morning, I'll do it if I have to, but if I don't have to I won't. On the days that I happen to hit snooze one time too many or I just don't have time in the morning to get a good sweat in and I know my day is all jammed up, I have a backup plan. I chunk my workout for that day. In other words, I find several brief 2-5 minute windows throughout the day where I have time to bang out a set or two of push-ups, squats or whatever is on the program for the day and I get in what I can, when I can. By the end of the day I have accumulated the full volume of work that was on the plan - so what if it was spread out throughout the day, I got my work in! 

One more tip from our friends at The Sleep Judge: Beware how technology - even running in the background - can impact your sleep!

TAKE HOME: 

  • Sleep is important so find ways to get to bed earlier. Try developing a sleep routine. 
  • If you can get 30+ minutes of extra snooze time, take it. Otherwise just get up. 
  • Of course everyone is different but early morning might not be the best time of day to push your body physically. 
  • Stop wasting your time feeling fitness guilt and beating yourself up if you happen to hit snooze and miss your chance to train in the morning. Simply brush it off and take advantage of "chunking" your workout throughout the day on your way to staying on track. 

References:

Medarov, B., Valentin, P., & Rossoff, L. (2008). Diurnal Variations in Human Pulmonary Function. Int J Clin Exp Med, 1(3), 267-273. doi:PMC259259 


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Tim DiFrancesco, PT, DPT, ATC, CSCS is the Head Strength & Conditioning Coach of the Los Angeles Lakers and founder of TD Athletes Edge.  He is nationally renowned for his evidence-based and scientific approach to fitness, training, nutrition, and recovery for athletes and fitness enthusiasts.

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