It can be hard to tell your body to rest when you really, really want to make it to your favorite morning spin class. Likewise, it can also be challenging to pull yourself out from under the covers to get a workout in when you’re feeling lazy, the weather sucks, a sub has taken over your class, or you’re just not feeling in the mood to sweat and mess up your hair.
While there’s no definitive answer as to whether or not you should exercise or get those extra hours of shut eye, one thing is for sure—the body either needs more sleep or doesn’t, and if it doesn’t, you should get your booty into the leggings and do your mind and body some good.
Yet it can be difficult to detect the signs of when you should let your body snooze or whether you should shake off the slumber and get your ass to class. Here’s what the experts have to say.
You’ve Worked Out Daily and Are Tired
If you’ve worked out for three or four days in a row and you’re not used to that regimen, your body might need a break. So, if you wake up feeling super tired and you just want to sleep, consider the number of consecutive days, says Sylvia Nasser, CPT, and group fitness Equinox instructor.
“When we are not resting enough, our body lets us know. It feels like it’s betraying us—if you have pushed through for a few days in a row, it’s time to take a break. If you cannot remember the last time you skipped a workout to rest or sleep in, it’s time to take a break,” she explains.
You’re Feeling Sluggish or Moody
Yet let’s say you’re simply sluggish or you’re in a bad mood. Maybe there’s a big presentation that day or you need to work late and you’re feeling grumpy. (This happens a lot!) Or maybe you slept funky — this also is pretty common.
“If you feel sluggish or your mood feels a bit depressed, pushing through a workout is a good idea,” Nasser says, as exercise boosts endorphins to improve our mood.
What’s more, “sometimes we wake up feeling tight or sore or with a crick somewhere because we slept in a strange position all night, [and] pushing through a workout can right our imbalances,” Nassar points out.
“If you feel tired but think you can push through without injuring yourself, then you should do just that. A short, slow paced workout can boost immunity, mood and overall feelings of wellness,” she explains. Try a jog or moderate run or go into a barre or Pilates class.
You’re Been Getting Fewer Than 6 Hours of Sleep
“If one has been getting less than six hours sleep a night for several days in a row due to work or partying but has still been exercising, then they have not been able to recuperate and they should sleep in,” says Robert Herbst, personal trainer, weight loss and wellness coach, and powerlifter. Otherwise, you risk plateauing or getting an injury.
“If they have been getting adequate sleep and feel tired, they should go to the gym. Exercise will energize them,” he says. Keep that in mind as a way to differentiate your levels of fatigue.
In general, 7-8 hours of sleep is pretty good, and you don’t want to go over 9 hours, says Bill Tuck, certified sleep science coach and expert. “We have a tendency to focus too much on the duration of the sleep instead of the quality, and if we aren’t getting a sufficient amount of deep sleep, you should go back to bed,” he says.
On the flip side, getting too much sleep could end up being a detriment. “If you are getting enough sleep, then getting in a solid workout is not only good for your health, but can also improve your sleep that night,” he says.
Overall, trust your body and use your best judgment. If you haven’t been sleeping, sleep. If you know you’re just feeling lazy, don’t waste that workout. You don’t want to enter a cycle of skipping, which is pretty easy to fall into. Your body will thank you for the calorie burn and sweat!