Sleep or Exercise: Which Matters More?

by Bill Brenner on July 10, 2014

I’ve been trying hard of late to get my exercise regimen back on track. But I keep hitting the same wall: sleep. Specifically, I can’t get my ass out of bed at the appointed time so I keep missing my workout window.

Mood music:

For a guy who used to obsessively walk 3.5 miles a day no matter the weather or amount of rest, this is baffling. True, I am pushing my mid-40s. But really, this shit still seems harder than it should be.

I’m not a sedentary guy. I usually take the stairs instead of the elevator at work. I run up and down three flights of stairs in my house all day. Erin and I take regular walks. Hell, I climbed all the way to the top of the Bunker Hill Monument last week!

But it’s not enough.

I know what I have to do. But I have to get around this fairly new problem of sleep getting in the way. I’ve always been an early riser. But to work out first thing in the morning, I need to be up by 4 a.m., and that’s not happening. It’s as if my body is staging a sleep protest, refusing to budge before 5 a.m. The simple answer is to exercise later in the day, except that life has a habit of getting in the way.

About now the reader is saying, “For crying out loud, just do it!” I can hear one of my tough-guy friends saying, “This post is escapism and blame.” I can see all those “Your Excuse Is Invalid” memes on Facebook.

Yes, yes. I know.

I have plenty of fresh motivation to get over this hump. A lot of friends my age are engaged in some serious weight-lifting programs. I know a lot of dedicated runners and swimmers. They do it, and so can I.

What I need to figure out is how to break through that first, most stubborn wall — the urge to stay in bed.

Man asleep on barbells

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Leanne Agurkis July 10, 2014 at 6:10 pm

Hi Bill – This blog hit home. Morning workouts are best for me, too, because early morning is the only part of my day that I control. Is going to bed earlier an option? Your body should naturally wake up earlier if you go to bed earlier. Best to get into the groove now! It will be much harder as the temps drop in New England. Finally, think about the question my husband asks me when I fess up about missing a workout: “Did you have time to eat today?”

Jen July 10, 2014 at 8:14 pm

I completely hear and agree, Bill. For months I was dedicated to a training program. I would rise at 4 get that 7 miles or whatever was on the schedule done. But the past 2 months, reaching for the snooze button has been my exercise program and I am trying to change that. I’ll think of you at 4 am from the top of the “hill”. Maybe knowing another soul is going through the same temptation for a bit more sleep will help. Good luck friend!

Dmitry July 16, 2014 at 1:00 pm

My morning started with frustration and self blame for some time too.. Now I’m exercising at the evenings and it works pretty well.
Still trying to use the morning for bass playing (at lest for 30 min), not much success though 🙁

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: