Sleep V Exercise

So last week my husband was away and my 18 month old decided 5.30am was a great time to start the day. This along with work, creche drops and collects, laundry, ensuring everyone was fed and house was semi tidy was enough to send me back in to mombie (mom zombie) state!

On one of the evening after getting the girls to bed, lunches made and dinner sorted for the next day, I went to do some exercise. I had planned on doing a high intensity workout but all my body wanted to do was eat chocolate while binge watching netflix (I chose the later the evening before – balance). Standing there I knew I did not have the energy reserves for high intensity so I got out my mat and did a basic workout from one of the early week of The Bump Room Beyond Birth Programme. This was quite low level but it was just what my body needed at the time and I had a great night sleep (10-5.30am) after.

It got me thinking about the issue of sleep v exercises. I never thought these two activities essential for health would be pitted against each other but as a mum this is a regular dilemma. As a busy and fatigued mum how do you choose between two important functions: sleep and exercise?? Without proper sleep, we can feel too fatigued to exercsie. Yet ironically exercising can provide you with the energy. Knowing what is best for you and when can be a challenge.

The benefits of sleep are endless. It is the time where your body recovers and repairs and it is essential for physical, emotional and psychological health.

When To Choose Sleep??

  1. You have slept less than 6 hours in the last 24 hours.
  2. You are emotionally stress (we have all been there – tears for no reason).
  3. You are so sleep deprived its hard to make a decision about anything (even “What’s for dinner?”).

Never feel guilty for choosing sleep over exercise. In fact you will probably make more healthy food choices the next day and your next workout will be much more beneficial to your body because you will be ready for it.

On the other hand, exercise is essential for physical and mental health and avoiding exercise on a long term basis will have repercussions on your health. In the physiotherapy clinic I see women who feel they have no energy to exercise and are struggling with all the aches and pains associated with lack of movement.


When To Choose Exercise(even though you are tired)?

  1. You are not sleeping well even though your baby is.
  2. You are fatigued but getting decent (ish) sleep.
  3. You are stressed.
  4. When your body aches all over and sleep has not helped.

The key with exercise is knowing what your body needs at the time. We all wake up with a pot of energy in the morning. We control (and our baby’s temperament that day) how we divide up this energy. Looking after a baby takes a huge percentage of this and so as women learning the skill of protecting the rest and replenishing our energy stores is essential to healthy living. Take exercise for example, a 20 minute walk might give you energy whereas a 20 minute HITT session may drain you of your already low pot (another woman will will feel energised after HITT) but knowing what is enough for your body is a skill every mum needs to learn for themselves and their body.

For me I think it is good to have a selection of exercise routines that you can choose from. Be it a walk in the fresh air, a mat based low impact workout or a high intensity workout. In The Bump Room Beyond Birth Programme, I have created two types of workouts which progress in their challenge as the programme progresses. One is pilates and motor control based and the other is strength based (more intense). So if you are due to do a strength workout and you are feeling tired you could choose the matwork video instead and at least you have moved and not exhausted all the energy from you pot. Alternatively on a day where you are feeling good (and baby is sleeping well) you could do both or double up on the strength workout for an extra challenge.

Becoming a mum is a massive learning curve and getting in tune with your body again can take time. If you are sleep deprived always choose sleep when you have a chance and before deciding on a workout ask yourself “What does my body need right now?”. Eventually your child will sleep well and you will gradually feel your own energy levels restored.

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