Thursday, October 17, 2013

Can You Train While Tired?

We all know that we're supposed to be getting 6-8 hours of sleep every night. (Right??) That's the number that's been thrown at us in school, our doctor's office, magazines, the news, etc. But how many of us really make sleep a priority? I've been known to get less than 4-5 hours of sleep on occasion. I try to not make it a regular thing, but it happens.


When you get less sleep than you ought to, you feel a certain way the next day. Your eyes have a hard time staying open, your ability to concentrate goes way down, your limbs feel heavy, everything sounds kinda fuzzy (that last one might be one of my quirks, but that's the one that drives me nuts)... It's just not a great time. But what affects can sleep deprivation have on your training?

Five ways sleep deprivation can affect your training

  1. You may be more likely to pick up a bug at the gym (or work, or in the store...), sleep deprivation negatively affects your immune system. Pick up a bug and you could be skipping more than just the one workout you could have traded for a nap
  2. It can decrease your reaction time, decreased reaction time means that you can get seriously hurt if you do something wrong or if something goes wrong. 
  3. Your performance can suffer: you cannot work as hard for as long and that can really put a damper on your entire workout.
  4. You're more prone to fatigue, your endurance isn't going to be up to snuff. :(
  5. You'll sweat less, this one is less of a decreased performance issue and just really freakin weird. 

So what is a fit-nut to do when they've gotten less sleep than they should have but still want to workout the next day? 

When this happens to me, I stick to cardio or weight machines. If I've gotten 5+ hours of sleep, I might jog or run... but if I'm truly deprived like I was this past Saturday, I'll keep it to a walk. I don't trust myself to use free-weights when I'm sleep deprived, my balance goes completely whack and I don't trust my stabilizer muscles to be able to save me if I start falling over midway through a squat. Weight machines allow me to isolate a particular muscle/group without needing to balance.

The trick here is to be honest with yourself. Are you actually sleep deprived or are you just feeling a little lazy and want out of your workout? Nobody can make that call but you.

If you're truly sleep deprived, by all means skip the intense workout you had planned or take it down a few notches. 

If you're just feeling a little lazy and trying to get out of a sweat session you had planned.... well...

Suck it up, buttercup... or don't, it's your body. :)

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