Snuggling down in my flannel blankets early one morning, my supposed “calm” alarm jars me awake. It tells me, ‘C’mon, let’s go!! Time to go on your run that you’re ever so excited to-” Yeah. Don’t think so. I know exercise is good for me, but naturally, a warm comfy bed is far more alluring than a wet, cold day outside wherein I will have to run.
“Exercise, sleep and nutrition form the triangle of health, and all are related,” said Dr. Phyllis Zee, a professor of neurology and director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Northwestern University in Chicago. According to research from her lab, a good night’s sleep, consisting of at least seven hours of sleep, shows that better and longer exercise sessions are able to be reached during the day. On the flip side, less zzz’s can very often lead to flopping back into bed and not missing a good workout. “Exercise can improve the quality of sleep,” she said, “deep sleep that is more restorative and effective for memory, performance and physical health.”
Apparently, sweat on your brow and sleep in your eyes participate in a “bidirectional relationship.”
Kelly Glazer Baron, director of Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at Northwestern said, “Because of this intertwining impact, robbing yourself of exercise or sleep is counterproductive to good health. Look at your life and figure out what you can swap for exercise and still keep your sleep.”
Dr. Baron knows what works and what doesn’t; she happens to be a full-time academic and mother of 2-year-old twins. “Dr. Baron bikes to work or runs at lunchtime and also believes in interval training, which involves intense but brief bouts of exercise.”
How do we get more sleep without skipping time in the gym you ask? Dr. Zee says to try going to bed 20 to 30 minutes earlier than usual on work days, and waking up 15 minutes later in the morning. This can give you an 600 to 800 minutes of sleep per month, which I personally find very easy to do and suspect the conviction is the same for most of us.