Sleep or exercise? Recently I took a poll at my PT studio which showed about 90% of active people choose exercise over sleep. But I suppose if you were to poll the same amount of sedentary people they would answer just the opposite. Sure, it’s something of a lifestyle choice, but what if their interface within the body was the key to our survival? Here are some facts that we can all agree on. Most of us agree that stress sucks…literally it sucks the life out of you by super intensifying your body’s systems. Chronic stress can cause major health problems, destroy your quality of life, and shorten your life span by 10%. Obesity, depression, heart disease, stroke and sleep disorders are all caused by stress. Ok, Less of all that would definitely make us happier. So let’s use stress as our key indicator. Even if you’re getting eight hours of sleep a night, you’re missing out, and you gym rats who live on just three hour cat naps…sorry. Working out won’t replace sleep and vise versa; they go hand in hand. Sleepy facts are: It’s not likely you’re getting enough sleep as only ½ of all Americans do. Recent studies show fewer typical sleep hours is one of the best predictors of high stress. Here’s what happens: Sleep clears out the brain the same way as your computer defragments each day in order to run smoothly. Certain proteins used for communication build up in the brain during the day but drop as much as 30-40 % while sleeping, clearing your head and making way for new stuff. At the same time people who wake up too early receive an elevated dose of cortisol for breakfast. Cortisol (The stress hormone) raises blood pressure, increases your risk of heart attacks and diabetes, increases blood sugar, and reduces your immune response leaving the door open to all kinds of nasty bugs. Have you ever “Slept on it”? Sleep fixes IT almost every time, like taking the trash out so you can think again. Exercise facts: Physical activity does wonders for relieving stress. Check out these five benefits: Increases physical and mental strength allowing you too withstand the effects of stress, stretches and relaxes the tight muscles associated with stress, focuses the mind on the activity instead of what happened to cause the stress, burns adrenaline stores built up from stress and releases endorphins (Greek for morphine within) which block pain, and increases oxygen intake. The brain needs lots of 0xygen (as much as 20% of all the body’s supply) to stay sharp. 90% of all your energy comes from Oxygen. It controls the way we feel and act. It displaces harmful free radicals, neutralizes toxins, and destroys everything from parasites to viruses. Calories are burned almost entirely from the increased energy demands of the heart and muscles during ventilation; breathing during exercise. It also stabilizes the nervous system, calms the mind and relieves stress by allowing us a good night’s sleep. Could exercise be as important as sleep? Well I say there can be no unmitigated one without the other. With so many missing winks and workouts it’s no surprise that we’re all stressed out! Without a solution we’re goners. So which one do we do? Its’ pretty clear that we have no choice but to get more sleep and exercise if we hope to succeed or even survive in today’s world so… it’s a draw! Time for my nap, see you at the gym.