It's not an easy answer.
Trying to decide if you should sleep in an extra hour or head to that Soulcycle class you booked? It's a common debate many people have with themselves each morning. And to be honest, both are really important! Sleep is restorative for your body. It boosts your immune system and helps maintain good brain function. On the flip side, exercise is a mood booster and stress reliever—and a nonnegotiable for overall health. Lack of exercise and sleep deprivation both increase your risk of chronic disease, so it’s not ideal to constantly be deciding between the two.
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I generally recommend seven to eight hours of sleep, though there are some people who still feel energized with only six hours. Just keep in mind that sleep deprivation may hinder your workout performance, so consider going easy on your body if you didn’t get enough z’s. That said, if you’re never getting enough sleep and are dragging yourself out of bed and to the gym, you need to look at your schedule and come up with a better system that prioritizes both. That might mean doing a shorter, higher-intensity workout at another point in the day so it doesn’t impact your sleep schedule.
Health’s medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, is assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine.