It’s 5:30am, the alarm goes off… and you don’t want to get out of bed!
Why? You’re exhausted from life and the thought of jumping into a cold pool isn’t nearly as enticing as staying in bed. When you’re feeling super tired, is it better to get out of bed and hit the pool, or shut off the alarm and go back to sleep?
Related: 8 Benefits of Swimming You Probably Didn’t Know
The Case For Hitting Snooze
According to the National Institutes of Health, adults should get seven to eight hours of shut-eye each night. Sleep plays a major role in your overall physical and emotional health. Getting enough rest every night helps your brain function, and reduces your risk of chronic disease, promoting mental well-being, and boosts your immune system.
Studies also show that sleep loss is associated with increased hunger and appetite, linking a lack of sleep to an increased likelihood of obesity. Missing out on proper rest will also negatively impact your athletic performance. Sleep deprivation will make you feel heavy and slow in the water.
“It’s during deep sleep – what we call slow-wave sleep – that growth hormone is released. It seems to be part of normal tissue repair – patching the wear and tear of the day.” – Sleep Expert Phil Gehrman, PhD
The Perks of Early An Early Swim
The most clear benefit swimming in the morning is the fact that you’re more likely to actually complete a workout before other obligations come up. You won’t have to convince yourself to head to the pool in the evening after a long day of work or school.
“Morning exercisers tend to stick with their exercise habit. By doing the bulk of exercise first thing in the morning, you get your exercise in before other distractions can intrude.” – Cedric X. Bryant, PhD, chief exercise physiologist of the American Council on Exercise.
Swimming also increases the production of endorphins, those feel-good chemicals that help relieve stress.
Finally, early-bird swim workouts will lead to more restful sleep. According to research conducted by Appalachian State University, people who exercised at 7:00 a.m. fell asleep faster than those who didn’t exercise at all or those who exercised in the afternoons or evenings.
Related: 10 Tips To Becoming A Morning Swimmer
If you swim in the mornings, you’re likely changing your sleep cycle a bit to get up earlier to accommodate the workout. That, along with the added calorie burn during the day, can help you fall into dreamland quicker at night, says lead study author Scott R. Collier, PhD, FACSM.
To determine whether or not you’re sacrificing sleep in favor of sweating it out, consider how long you’re sleeping and the period of time you’re asleep, says Natalie Dautovich, Ph.D., a National Sleep Foundation environmental fellow. “If you find you feel fatigued during the day, that it’s difficult to concentrate or hard to wake up, then you may need to reconsider your sleep schedule.”
Your Game Plan
Deciding weather to wake up (or not) is based on personal preference and depends on the factors discussed. Ask yourself the three questions below to gauge whether or not you get out of bed and hit the pool!
- Am I actually going to shut off my alarm and sleep?
- Do I have pool access at any other time during the day to swim?
- Can I make up the workout later in the week, possibly doing a two-a-day?
If you answered “no” to any of these, then get up, and go swim!
For those of you who’ve already discovered the benefits of swimming first thing in the morning, please contribute your own success stories in the comments below.