There’s an unspoken feud between those who workout in the morning and those who workout at night — but is there a right time to workout?
Dr. Nicole Van Groningen posted a TikTok that has now gained over one million views explaining the top things she would never do as a doctor. The first thing she would never do is wake up early to exercise.
“Do not let any influences out here convince you to cut your sleep duration short so that you can go to the gym,” Van Groningen said. (1)
She goes on to explain that sleep should always be your primary wellness habit, meaning prioritizing sleep over exercise no matter what.
Is Waking Up Early to Exercise a Bad Thing?
If you’re someone who loves your morning workouts, you might not want to change your habits just yet, but instead make sure you’re finding some balance between exercise and sleep.
The TikTok comments were quick to point out that working out early doesn’t necessarily mean insufficient sleep. One person commented, “you can work out in the morning and still get 8 hours of sleep? Just go to bed earlier.” (1)
After lots of discussion in the comment section, Van Groningen clarified writing, “To clarify for anyone who loves morning fitness — love that for you! “Early” in this context only means any point before adequate sleep has been reached!” (1)
Other commenters agreed with her sentiments saying, “Sleep > everything else,” or “you’re so real for that sleep advice.” (1)
Sleep psychologist and clinical director of The Better Sleep Clinic, Dan Ford, told Sleepopolis that different people have different body clocks, making each person’s preferred exercise time different.
“Some people are evening oriented, and for these people, they typically go to bed late, so early morning exercise may cut their sleep short” Ford said. “However, for a morning person they are likely to be asleep early in the evening and awake early in the morning. For these people, morning exercise is often ideal.”
The real key is finding the balance between getting the sleep your body needs and exercising at the optimal time for your body.
Dr. Paul Daidone, double board-certified in internal medicine and addiction and the medical director at True Self Recovery, told Sleepopolis that prioritizing sleep is so important because it’s the time when the body is able to undergo repairs and rejuvenation.
He explained that by getting enough sleep for your body it’s able to aid in memory consolidation, muscle growth, tissue repair, and hormone regulation that controls growth and appetite.
On the opposite side of things, Daidone said a lack of sleep can severely hurt your body by “resulting in various health problems, including impaired focus, slow recovery from workouts, and an increased risk of injuries.”
Exercise is also important for your body with a recommended 150 minutes per week, but it should never come at the expense of your sleep.
How to Prioritize Sleep While Working Out Early
If you’re an early bird who has to get their morning workout in, Daidone outlined his top three ways to help ensure you’re still able to prioritize your sleep.
Consistent Sleep Schedule: By aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day this creates consistency that helps to regulate your body’s internal clock, promoting better sleep.
Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine: By having calming activities before bedtime, like reading or taking a warm bath, you are able to cue your body that it’s time to wind down. This aids your body in falling asleep faster.
Have a Sleep-Conducive Environment: Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool. If you have a hard time with any of these consider investing in earplugs, an eye mask, or a white noise machine to create an environment conducive to sleep.
Van Groningen, Nicole (@dr.nicole.vangroningen on TikTok). November 3, 2023. https://email@example.com/video/7297367940121234731?_r=1&_t=8h9hYrd6Dsu.
Ford, Dan. Personal Interview. November 2023.
Daidone Paul. Personal Interview. November 2023.