The Relationship Between Sleep and Exercise

Exercise and sleep are two essential components of a healthy lifestyle. While the former strengthens the body and keeps you energetic, the latter repairs your body and refreshes your mind. Hence, you need to get the right amount of sleep and exercise every single day to stay fit and healthy.

Unfortunately, there are numerous myths about the relationship between sleep and exercise that may confuse you. Today, we will debunk some of these popular myths that can act as hurdles during your fitness journey. If you have been confused about conflicting information on this subject, our factsheet will help you out!

Busting the Top 12 Myths About Exercise and Sleep

Here are some sleep and exercise facts that debunk the most common fitness myths. Make sure you don’t fall prey to any of these myths!

1. Myth – Choose morning exercise for sound sleep because exercising at night will hinder sleep.

Fact – This is a common myth about the relationship between sleep and exercise. It is, in fact, only partially true. Exercise does increase the body temperature which can disrupt your sleep rhythm. However, this doesn’t mean that you should not exercise at night at all. All you need to ensure is that your body gets enough time to cool down before hitting the bed. 

Hence, you can exercise at night without hindering your sleep if you work out a few hours before your bedtime. Exercise and sleep always work in harmony. Being active throughout the day will help you get better sleep at night and vice-versa!

2. Myth – You need to walk 10,000 steps a day to stay fit.

Fact – We have all heard that 10,000 steps a day are the key to a fit body. However, a recent study[1] debunked the myth that anything less than 10,000 steps a day is useless from a health perspective. The study found that even 4,400 steps a day significantly reduced the mortality rates in women. 

You should not feel disheartened if you end up walking fewer steps a day. Exercise in any amount is great for your body. So, focus on staying active as much as possible and get some exercise for sound sleep.

3. Myth – Abdominal exercises will give you a flat belly.

Abdominal exercises
Fact – One of the biggest myths surrounding exercise and sleep is that of spot reduction of fat. Many of us believe that if we wish to lose belly fat, we should do more abdominal exercises. This is completely false! You cannot control which part of your body you lose fat from. With the help of exercise, you can strengthen the muscles of different body parts and aim for overall weight loss. Controlling your calorie intake and exercising every day will help you hit a healthy weight, which will prevent the accumulation of fat in any part of your body.

5. Myth – Sitting is bad for your health.

Fact – People often consider sitting as an unhealthy activity. However, sleep and exercise facts indicate that sitting is not as bad for your health as you might think. Contrary to popular belief, most of our ancestors also used to sit for approximately 10 hours a day. Instead of eliminating sitting altogether, focus on maintaining a good posture and walking around every few hours to take a break.

If you have a desk job, take regular breaks from sitting to warm up and stretch your body. Also, make sure to get ample exercise and sleep for optimal physical and mental health.

6.Myth – You need to get 8 hours of sleep to be energetic the next day.

Fact – The relationship between sleep and exercise often brings up the topic of how many hours of sleep you need daily. We have all grown up hearing that 8 hours of sleep each night is essential. The fact is that you need to listen to your body instead of blindly following this rule. Some people feel completely refreshed and energized after 6 hours of sleep, while others may feel lethargic even after 9 hours.

According to studies[2], there isn’t one golden number that will work for everyone. So, focus on the quality of sleep instead.

6. Myth – Lifting weights will make a woman bulky.

Lifting weights Myth
Fact – Ladies, here’s another one of the sleep and exercise facts for you – lifting weights won’t make you bulky! Women produce less testosterone than men and are, therefore, less prone to bulking up. So, even if you start lifting weights, you won’t become broad and bulky like men. 

Weightlifting is an excellent exercise to strengthen your muscles. If you are still worried about looking too muscular, stick to lighter weights but don’t skip weightlifting altogether!

7. Myth – You can make up for less exercise and sleep on weekdays by compensating over the weekend.

Fact – One of the lesser-known sleep and exercise facts is that you cannot compensate for less sleep and exercise throughout the week by catching up on both on weekends. Depriving your body of sleep during the weekdays and then sleeping for long hours on holidays won’t keep you energized throughout the week. Similarly, extra exercise on weekends and zero exercises on weekdays won’t strengthen your muscles or boost your metabolism like daily exercise. 

We are all guilty of neglecting exercise and sleep on busy workdays. A few cheat days here and there are fine, but do not focus on your health only on the weekend!

8. Myth – Watching something on the TV can help you fall asleep.

Watching something fall asleep
Fact – The artificial light from TV and computer screens disrupts melatonin production in the body. Melatonin is the sleep-inducing hormone, the lack of which disrupts your sleep rhythm. Hence, looking at a screen close to your bedtime is not advisable at all. Instead, you can go for some evening exercise for sound sleep or listen to sleep-inducing music. Chamomile tea, podcasts, and a few drops of lavender oil on your pillow can also help you fall asleep. Turn off all devices an hour before your bedtime and try these healthy tips!

9. Myth – Chairs with lumbar support are the best for your back.

Fact – Ergonomic chairs with lumbar support are essential for those with desk jobs. But are they really good for your back? The answer is no. Sleep and exercise facts suggest that these chairs can weaken your back muscles in the long run. When you sit on a stool or any backless chair, you engage your back muscles to hold your posture. On the other hand, when you sit on a chair with lumbar support, you do not engage your back muscles. Focus on back exercises to strengthen your muscles!

10. Myth – Feeling sleepy during the day means you are lazy and need more exercise for sound sleep at night.

Fact – Admit it, if you see someone yawning in the middle of the day, you sometimes assume that they are lazy! You may also have heard people say that if you feel sleepy during the day, you should exercise more. While there is a strong linkage between exercise and sleep, fatigue and sleepiness during the day could also be a sign of an underlying disease.

Studies[3] indicate that tiredness and drowsiness during the day can be signs of sleep apnea and associated comorbidities. So, if you have been experiencing these symptoms, do consult a medical professional!

11. Myth – Exercise should make you sweat; otherwise, it does not count.

Fact – Another common exercise and sleep myth is that you have not exercised unless it made you sweat. This is entirely untrue! Any form of movement or physical activity that increases your heart rate constitutes exercise. Sweating is just a cooling mechanism of the body and doesn’t indicate the quality of exercise.

So, focus on being physically active and strengthening your muscles instead of worrying about how much you sweat. If you intend to exercise for sound sleep, any form of movement, be it walking, jogging, swimming, or weightlifting would work.

12. Myth – Snoring is completely normal and doesn’t require medical attention.

Snoring medical attention
Fact – Snoring can be indicative of underlying respiratory issues or sleep apnea. While occasional snoring can be caused by poor sleeping posture, if you snore regularly, you should visit a doctor. Also, if you are overweight, you should exercise for sound sleep as well as to cure snoring. 

The relationship between sleep and exercise is so powerful that exercise can help you combat sleep apnea too. So, if you are struggling with sleep-related issues, exercise will help! 


Before you sketch out a fitness plan for yourself, you should be aware of the sleep and exercise facts. These will prevent you from falling prey to the fitness myths floating around on the internet. 

Contrary to what some myths suggest, paying equal attention to the quality of exercise and sleep will help you achieve your fitness goals.

Furthermore, the relationship between sleep and exercise is symbiotic, and both works in harmony to nurture your body. So, do not sacrifice one at the cost of the other. Also, do not worry about the number of hours of sleep or how many steps you complete each day. Instead, ensure that you wake up rejuvenated after sleeping and move all your muscles each day.

This perfect balance of exercise and sleep will help you achieve your fitness goals faster. So, stay away from the myths and listen to your body to identify the best fitness and sleep routine!