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Sleep or Exercise?
Old Tue, September 13th, 2011, 10:51 PM   #1
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Default Sleep or Exercise?

I know both are important from a health perspective, but unfortunately sometimes circumstances make you choose between the two.

I know that optimally I need 7.5 hours of sleep a night. Currently with work I am pulling 6.5 to 7 which slowly is wearing me down but I am functional. I have found time to get in the gym 3 times a week to lift (Starting Strength).

But I have found that my cardiovascular fitness is dwindling. I get tired with minimal aerobic exertion.

I was asking around work and one of the guys (who trained for triathlons with a schedule similar to mine) said that he would just sacrifice sleep and wake up super early to get his workouts in. He would only get 4 or 5 hours of sleep a night.

I don't think I could survive on that little, but I guess the question is once you get to these lower numbers is the energy boost from exercise worth the stress impact of less sleep? I would be curious to see if anyone has come across any studies.
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Old Wed, September 14th, 2011, 12:00 AM   #2
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I know you asked about studies, so naturally I will pipe in with my opinion which is based on absolutely no hard evidence or data whatsoever.

feel free to look away for a second...

Considering your body rebuilds muscle and repairs other cellular damage while you are sleeping, it seems like you would have to cycle things or eventually just wear yourself down and get sick. Maybe run short on sleep so you can get your exercise in like you have been doing, but then plan in mini recovery periods every couple weeks. I don't mean a full recovery week, I just mean skipping a couple workouts in a row and trying to get caught up on your sleep deficit, maybe do some yoga at home to stretch out the muscles and get blood flowing, but really just focus on letting your body have a chance to fully recover.

As for your co-worker who trained for triathlons on 4 hours sleep? I suspect he is somewhat abnormal. I know from personal experience that my limit is about a month on 6 hours a night, and the amount I need only goes up when I am working out.

If you run too short for too long, your body has some fun ways to steal the rest it so foolishly thinks it needs... like micronapping while driving... so yeah, especially if you commute, be sure to catch up on your sleep every so often.



ok done. You can go back to waiting for someone to answer your reasonable request for information with some data behind it.
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Old Wed, September 14th, 2011, 12:05 AM   #3
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ok done. You can go back to waiting for someone to answer your reasonable request for information with some data behind it.
DATA?! Who needs data when you've got the gote?

I was actually thinking along the same lines as Mr. xygote on this. Skipping a worjout once every few weeks to get some quality ZZZs sounds like a perfect solution for a situation like this to me... and your triathalon friend, ThiMo, is an anomaly. Period.
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Old Wed, September 14th, 2011, 03:16 AM   #4
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I'll go a different way. Are you eating enough?

You need sleep. Your friend may have just been running himself into the ground.
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Old Thu, September 15th, 2011, 01:04 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheThirdMohican View Post
I know both are important from a health perspective, but unfortunately sometimes circumstances make you choose between the two.

I know that optimally I need 7.5 hours of sleep a night. Currently with work I am pulling 6.5 to 7 which slowly is wearing me down but I am functional. I have found time to get in the gym 3 times a week to lift (Starting Strength).

But I have found that my cardiovascular fitness is dwindling. I get tired with minimal aerobic exertion.

I was asking around work and one of the guys (who trained for triathlons with a schedule similar to mine) said that he would just sacrifice sleep and wake up super early to get his workouts in. He would only get 4 or 5 hours of sleep a night.

I don't think I could survive on that little, but I guess the question is once you get to these lower numbers is the energy boost from exercise worth the stress impact of less sleep? I would be curious to see if anyone has come across any studies.
Well, it sounds like your routine already allows you to get 6.5-7 hours of sleep per night, so why would you want to switch it so that you are only getting 4-5 hours per night?

6.5-7 hours I can handle OK, but no way could I go day after day with 4-5 hours of sleep. Exercise wouldn't make any difference whatsoever, I would feel like utter crap all of the time. So for me, it wouldn't be worth it. 6 or 7 hours is one thing, but 4-5 is unacceptable to me.
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Old Thu, September 15th, 2011, 10:03 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by FatLenny View Post
DATA?! Who needs data when you've got the gote?

I was actually thinking along the same lines as Mr. xygote on this. Skipping a worjout once every few weeks to get some quality ZZZs sounds like a perfect solution for a situation like this to me... and your triathalon friend, ThiMo, is an anomaly. Period.
That's not a bad idea and it seems to happen anyways because of work obligations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert2006 View Post
I'll go a different way. Are you eating enough?

You need sleep. Your friend may have just been running himself into the ground.
No I am probably not, and if so barely enough. This guy is not running himself to the ground, he has been doing this for 18 months now and increasing his swim, bike, and run race times.

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Originally Posted by JoeSchmo View Post
Well, it sounds like your routine already allows you to get 6.5-7 hours of sleep per night, so why would you want to switch it so that you are only getting 4-5 hours per night?

6.5-7 hours I can handle OK, but no way could I go day after day with 4-5 hours of sleep. Exercise wouldn't make any difference whatsoever, I would feel like utter crap all of the time. So for me, it wouldn't be worth it. 6 or 7 hours is one thing, but 4-5 is unacceptable to me.
I would not go that low but the question was whether doing let's say an extra 30 minutes of cardio in the morning (since my cardio is crap now) would give me more energy at the expense of sleep. I guess the only way to know is to try.

Quote:
Originally Posted by xygote View Post
I know you asked about studies, so naturally I will pipe in with my opinion which is based on absolutely no hard evidence or data whatsoever.

feel free to look away for a second...

Considering your body rebuilds muscle and repairs other cellular damage while you are sleeping, it seems like you would have to cycle things or eventually just wear yourself down and get sick. Maybe run short on sleep so you can get your exercise in like you have been doing, but then plan in mini recovery periods every couple weeks. I don't mean a full recovery week, I just mean skipping a couple workouts in a row and trying to get caught up on your sleep deficit, maybe do some yoga at home to stretch out the muscles and get blood flowing, but really just focus on letting your body have a chance to fully recover.

As for your co-worker who trained for triathlons on 4 hours sleep? I suspect he is somewhat abnormal. I know from personal experience that my limit is about a month on 6 hours a night, and the amount I need only goes up when I am working out.

If you run too short for too long, your body has some fun ways to steal the rest it so foolishly thinks it needs... like micronapping while driving... so yeah, especially if you commute, be sure to catch up on your sleep every so often.



ok done. You can go back to waiting for someone to answer your reasonable request for information with some data behind it.

This is a great post, I recently stopped falling asleep while driving and I feel much better.

Ok zzzs now
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Old Thu, September 15th, 2011, 11:33 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by TheThirdMohican View Post


I would not go that low but the question was whether doing let's say an extra 30 minutes of cardio in the morning (since my cardio is crap now) would give me more energy at the expense of sleep. I guess the only way to know is to try.
You probably wouldn't be doing yourself any favors by sacrificing sleep -- chronic sleep deprivation has negative effects on your hormonal profile. It raises cortisol levels (not something you want if you are trying to build muscle and/or lose fat), and some evidence suggests that sleep deprivation lowers testosterone levels.

Basically, you can't really train your way out of chronic sleep deprivation ... and you might even be making things worse given that your body will have a more difficult time recovering.

IMO, short intense training sessions with adequate sleep will reap you more benefits than longer sessions with less sleep.
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Old Fri, September 16th, 2011, 12:11 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by TheThirdMohican View Post
No I am probably not, and if so barely enough. This guy is not running himself to the ground, he has been doing this for 18 months now and increasing his swim, bike, and run race times.

You'll never find somebody over doing it who thinks they're over doing it. They'll just collapse at some point

It's like those teenage girls who keep trying to get a little lighter all the time. At some point their body starts eating heart muscle and they still would tell you they aren't going over board.
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Old Fri, September 16th, 2011, 11:35 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by JoeSchmo View Post
You probably wouldn't be doing yourself any favors by sacrificing sleep -- chronic sleep deprivation has negative effects on your hormonal profile. It raises cortisol levels (not something you want if you are trying to build muscle and/or lose fat), and some evidence suggests that sleep deprivation lowers testosterone levels.

Basically, you can't really train your way out of chronic sleep deprivation ... and you might even be making things worse given that your body will have a more difficult time recovering.

IMO, short intense training sessions with adequate sleep will reap you more benefits than longer sessions with less sleep.
That's what I've been acting on. I'll see if trying to up the calories helps at all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert2006 View Post
You'll never find somebody over doing it who thinks they're over doing it. They'll just collapse at some point

It's like those teenage girls who keep trying to get a little lighter all the time. At some point their body starts eating heart muscle and they still would tell you they aren't going over board.
Maybe. It's possible he is just a genetic freak.
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Old Sun, September 18th, 2011, 09:56 PM   #10
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This morning was a pretty good example of what can happen with lack of sleep. Worked all of yesterday and last night, got 20 minutes of sleep overnight and then had to make the decision whether to make the gym or not. Decided to go ahead and just dropped all the weights knowing that the performance was not going to be there.
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Old Sat, October 1st, 2011, 06:36 PM   #11
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I trained for an IronMan triathlon this year and there were some weeks during peak training where I would only be getting four hours of sleep a night just to fit in that extra earl morning swim around a busy office working week. I found that smashing the training one week and then taking it easy the next week (more sleep than training) worked great for me as it not only gave me a chance to repair and rest, but also worked wonders for my motivation.

If you are struggling to fit in both sleep and training into your routine then maybe start alternating a week where training is prioritised and then a week where rest is prioritised?


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I could do that but I have found that I need the workouts in a way, no matter how tired I am, to get rid of my stress. If I just work and go home and sleep the rage starts building in me. I need to blow off some steam every few days.
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Old Sun, November 6th, 2011, 12:14 AM   #12
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Why the rage?

That in itself on a constant basis will sap your energy and screw with your hormonal level as well as a whole lot of other things.

Never mind what works for everybody else.

Do what works for you in your best interest.

If you need more sleep, by all means get more sleep.

They tried doing a test in which rats were forced to stay awake for days and days......all the rats died in the end.
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Old Sun, November 6th, 2011, 10:18 PM   #13
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Why the rage?

That in itself on a constant basis will sap your energy and screw with your hormonal level as well as a whole lot of other things.

Never mind what works for everybody else.

Do what works for you in your best interest.

If you need more sleep, by all means get more sleep.

They tried doing a test in which rats were forced to stay awake for days and days......all the rats died in the end.
I'm not sure exactly why I have been so angry recently. I have always been a fairly calm person. The little things never bothered me. But recently I have been having random bursts of desire to throw things, push things, punch things, etc. I have been suppressing the urge to do so but every once in a while I will scream in my car or start beating up my pillow. I find the gym and hitting the shower are the two things that seem to take the edge of a bit.
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Old Fri, November 11th, 2011, 11:50 PM   #14
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I feel exactly like that when I overtrain and don't get enough sleep.

I used to scream in my car back in the day.

I used to beat the stuffing out of my pillow on a constant basis right up until I was around 12 years old.

I also used to beat the absolute crap out of my Teddybear.

But I think this was a result of watching too many barfights in Westerns on T.V. as a kid.
I would go to bed and emulate what I saw.
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Old Sat, November 26th, 2011, 07:38 PM   #15
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I feel exactly like that when I overtrain and don't get enough sleep.

I used to scream in my car back in the day.

I used to beat the stuffing out of my pillow on a constant basis right up until I was around 12 years old.

I also used to beat the absolute crap out of my Teddybear.

But I think this was a result of watching too many barfights in Westerns on T.V. as a kid.
I would go to bed and emulate what I saw.
Lack of sleep for sure.

A couple of days of vacation with normal sleep and I calmed down big time.

I would love to run or bike for 30 minutes every morning before work but I don't think it would be in my body's best interest at this point.
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Old Tue, March 20th, 2012, 04:42 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by TheThirdMohican View Post
I know both are important from a health perspective, but unfortunately sometimes circumstances make you choose between the two.

I know that optimally I need 7.5 hours of sleep a night. Currently with work I am pulling 6.5 to 7 which slowly is wearing me down but I am functional. I have found time to get in the gym 3 times a week to lift (Starting Strength).

But I have found that my cardiovascular fitness is dwindling. I get tired with minimal aerobic exertion.

I was asking around work and one of the guys (who trained for triathlons with a schedule similar to mine) said that he would just sacrifice sleep and wake up super early to get his workouts in. He would only get 4 or 5 hours of sleep a night.

I don't think I could survive on that little, but I guess the question is once you get to these lower numbers is the energy boost from exercise worth the stress impact of less sleep? I would be curious to see if anyone has come across any studies.
I wouldn't recommend sacrificing sleep...i always believed in 8 straight hours of sleep...i would get as close to 8 hours as you can..working out [especially strenuous] + lack of sleep is a recipe for a weak immune system..and if diet is poor the immune system can be definately weakened to the point that your opened up to a ton of problems ..if you can workout 3 times a week for 1 hour each time..during your busy schedual that's good..do circuit training, supersetting, hill sprints, plyometrics..all fast,constant pace..very intensive..this way way you can get weight training..cardio/conditioning at the same time without spending alot of time per week/day seperating them...if you have any questions please feel free to ask..thanks.
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Old Fri, March 30th, 2012, 09:29 AM   #17
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I'm not sure exactly why I have been so angry recently. I have always been a fairly calm person. The little things never bothered me. But recently I have been having random bursts of desire to throw things, push things, punch things, etc. I have been suppressing the urge to do so but every once in a while I will scream in my car or start beating up my pillow. I find the gym and hitting the shower are the two things that seem to take the edge of a bit.
actually, i've been going through some stressful stuff lately and i've realized that sacrificing sleep in the morning to do cardio BEFORE work helps me stay positive throughout the day. it's like a drug however, lack of sleep on its own can turn me into a bitch (to put it mildly) any time, so whenever i can, i get a nap in the afternoon, even for 10 minutes or so. it makes a HUGE difference.
another thing i've found out can have enormous influence on sudden changes of mood is too much carbs in the morning. when i eat protein based breakfasts like cottage cheese with tuna, or only eggs, i'm happy, when i have oatmeal, i'm cranky.
so, what's your diet like? if you don't recognize what's making you nervous in your environment maybe your body is simply drawing attention to something. make a diary of what you ate and how you felt, perhaps it can help. it made my life so much easier. and for everyone around
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Old Mon, May 28th, 2012, 04:46 PM   #18
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Finding ways to keep it together but I am definitely screwed up somehow but the lack of sleep, day-night switching. It's strange, I mean, I still function at a high-level in some things but psychologically and emotionally I've regressed big-time. I need like a two month Himalayan retreat
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Old Sun, July 1st, 2012, 11:04 AM   #19
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I'd like to note that this thread is now moot as I just finished my last ever series of overnight calls . Can't wait to get a set sleeping routine and crank up the intensity now.
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Old Wed, July 11th, 2012, 05:58 PM   #20
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Some people are better at working on less sleep than others it just depends on the type of person you are, but to be honest not getting enough sleep is unhealthy and it will eventually catch up with you. It is ideal to get 7-8 hours of sleep per night and if you get a chance to take a nap here or there, it'll make you feel a lot more refreshed and ready to take on what ever you have to.
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