You went to bed late and now the a.m. alarm is buzzing, all too soon. Is it healthier to get up and hit the gym, or give yourself another hour to snooze?


When it comes to exercise vs. sleep, you need both. According to several studies done by the National Institute of Health, exercise not only gives you more energy throughout the day and improves your mood, but it also helps you sleep better. And, yet, without adequate sleep, you won’t have the energy you need to work out.

Kind of makes it a chicken-and-egg, catch-22 thing, right? How are we supposed to get enough sleep and make time to work out? Do we learn to make peace with a muffin top or dark circles under our eyes?

“Exercise and sleep are equally important for your health,” says Jessica Bailey, a certified fitness instructor in New York City, but she does give a bit of a wink-nudge in favor of sleep. As a whole, research shows that Americans are terrible at getting both enough sleep and enough exercise, but to honor them both, you’ve really got to weigh slightly more in favor of sleep, which will in turn give you the energy to work out. “Sleep is the only time where your body can heal and repair your heart and blood vessels. If you sacrifice sleep often, you are increasing your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.”

It’s okay to get up half an hour early to work out a few days a week, but try to maintain a solid seven to eight hours of rest per night. Or, tweak your morning routine so that you get your zzzs and fit in some activity. Bailey recommends targeting thighs and butt with a wide second position squat. “You can do it while waiting for the coffee to brew or your morning oatmeal to cool off,” she promises.

To do the move: Lightly grip a solid surface and bend knees outward in a plie until your thighs are parallel to the floor, then alternate one-inch pulses for 20 counts, followed by lifting your heels (with thighs still parallel to floor) for 10 counts; alternate, repeating for a total of two minutes. “Over time, even two minutes a day can do your body good,” she says.

Bottom line: Sleep determines your workout potential, not the other way around, so be true to your Zs.