We've all been there: The morning after a particularly rough night of tossing and turning, you're barely a functional human being. But you had promised yourself you'd get up early to sweat.
When you're overtired, it's important to proceed with caution with everything you do — including exercise.
"Lack of sleep can negatively affect your strength and endurance during a workout," says Emily McLaughlin, certified personal trainer and nutrition specialist at 8fit. "When you're feeling sleep-deprived, not only will your performance suffer, but your risk for injury goes up, your immune system could take a hit and you might halt some much-needed tissue repair."
New research on sleep deprivation highlights just how severe the effects can be of even one night of too-few zzzs on both your attention and ability to function. Sleep loss can triple your lapses in concentration and double your odds of making mistakes, according to a November 2019 study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General — not things you want to have happen in the gym.
If you didn't get enough shut-eye, listen to your body before you lace up your sneakers. "If you were up all night, skip your workout," McLaughlin says. "If you worked out consistently all week, take this as a great opportunity to sleep in a bit longer or take a power nap during your scheduled exercise time."
But if you're determined to squeeze in a sweat session on little sleep, McLaughlin recommends avoiding complex exercises. Instead, stick to moves you can easily manage that don't require much coordination. For example, try a light jog or fast walk in place of your usual run "to prevent any rolled ankles or poor running form," she says.
The Perfect Workout for Sleepy Mornings
If you have just enough energy, McLaughlin says choose a few moves that your body knows well and incorporate them into a low-impact HIIT workout.
She recommends doing three rounds of the safe moves below on sleep-deprived days. "In all these moves, you have two feet on the ground, which means a stable base for reducing the risk of falling off-balance."
Move 1: Squat
- With your back straight and feet hip-width apart, bend your knees, lowering your butt down as if sitting into a chair.
- Keep your knees in line with your feet and behind your toes.
- Press through your heels as you stand back up.
- Repeat for 15 reps.
Move 2: Wall Push-Up
- Standing a few feet away from a wall, place your hands on the wall under your shoulders.
- Bend your elbows and bring your chest toward the wall, keeping your body in a straight line from head to toe.
- Press back to the start.
- Complete 8 reps.
Move 3: Plank
- Lie on your stomach on a comfortable surface with your forearms on the floor and your elbows directly beneath your shoulders. Keep your feet flexed with the tips of your toes on the floor.
- Keeping your entire body in a straight line, lift onto your toes and forearms.
- Draw your navel toward your spine and squeeze your butt muscles.
- Hold for 30 seconds.
Move 4: Crunch
- Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor.
- Support your neck with your hands behind your head, elbows flared out to the sides.
- Exhale, contract your abs, and lift your head and shoulder blades off the ground without straining your neck.
- Inhale as you lower back down.
- Repeat 15 times.
Read more: 21 Sit-Up Variations You Won't Totally Hate
Move 5: Glute Bridge
- Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet hip-width apart and flat on the floor.
- Inhale and press through your heels to lift your hips until your spine forms a straight line.
- Exhale and lower back down.
- Do 15 reps.