Should I Workout When I'm Tired?

Posted by Darian Dozier on Sep 18, 2023 3:15:00 PM

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At the end of another long day that came after another bad night of sleep, the last thing you may want to do is exercise. You may be trying to maintain your fitness goals and overall health. But at that point, nothing sounds better than going home to sit on the couch and get some much needed rest.

But what are the experts say? Is it safe for you to workout even thought you are tired and unfocused. Sleep deprivation makes it harder for you to make good decisions, pay attention, memorize things, and do much other than function at baseline. Working out involves coordination, awareness, focus and motivation - all of which go out the window when it comes to being so tired. 

Continue reading to learn what experts say about exercising when you're tired. 

Should I work out?

According to the experts, yes, you should. Even if you are super tired. One reason for this is the effect that a missed day could have on your motivation. You know yourself better than anyone. Have you had multiple stints at the gym, where you're constantly starting over again? This is because something interrupted your flow, and you just had a hard time getting back on the horse. 

So, avoiding any disruption in your gym flow could save you from having to start over again because that one missed day turned into a few missed months. In addition to that, working out promotes deep sleep. Deep sleep, or NREM3 is the stage where muscle repair, restoration, and learning takes place. Without it, you won't feel rested when you wake up. Even though you're very tired, working out may be the trick you need to get a good night's rest, especially if you have a sleeping disorder that makes it hard for you to get good quality sleep. 

Why quality sleep is important 

The body needs to move through all four stages of sleep in a cycle, 4-5 times a night. Each cycle lasts about 90 minutes, and the later stages of sleep are important for feeling refreshed for the next day. NREM3 and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep are the two main players in helping the body and mind be prepared for the next day. It's hard to get to these two stages if you have something that makes it hard for you to get quality sleep. 

REM sleep is great for developing memory and learning. REM is the stage where you're dreaming, which may actually be the brain's process for cementing memories made throughout the day. Especially if you're a student, or in a professional where remembering things is important, this stage of sleep is vital. 

Deeper stages can also boost immune functioning. As flu season approaches, it's going to be vital that your body is ready to fight whatever comes at it. This can best be done by a fortified immune system that is boosted by great quality sleep. 

Getting a good night's rest can also decrease your risk for developing chronic and metabolic diseases like obesity, heart disease, dementia, and mood disorders. 

Be wary of injuries 

One night of poor sleep shouldn't impact your physical health to a detrimental degree, but chronic sleep deprivation can make you more prone to injury and slower to heal. It may not be the best idea to go to the gym if you're so tired that you can barely walk in a straight line. The effect on your coordination may be too much of a risk. 

If you are chronically not getting enough sleep, your muscles may be at increased risk of injury because they don't get a chance to recover. Overused muscles can cramp, strain and tear. All of these are uncomfortable and detrimental injuries that will really take you out of the gym for a while. 

Determine your own risk 

At the end of the day, it's not a good idea to workout if you are extremely tired. You have to know what that looks like for you. Are you just a bit fatigued and can push through, or are you having trouble staying up while you're driving home? If you're not sleeping well, then it's probably not the best idea to go for the most intense workout. You can do an alternative like walking or yoga. Any time of physical activity is better than none. Even short bursts of workouts throughout the day can help. 3 10-minute intervals of working out throughout the day can have similar effects to a continuous workout.   

Before making any major changes to your workout, please consult a trainer or sleep health expert. If you are struggling with your sleep, and it's interfering with your ability to maintain a healthy routine, there may be an underlying issue deeper than making the bed. Please click the orange button below to take a free online sleep test and talk with one of our sleep health professionals. 

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