Here’s what you need to know
1. Studies show that stress hormones will be elevated through the night in anticipation of getting woken up early.
2. Elevated stress hormones overnight negatively impact energy, willpower, memory, thinking and mood later in the day.
3. Constantly being stressed can influence your ability to lose weight and may contribute to female reproductive challenges including PMS, PCOS, infertility and menopause symptoms.
4. Women need more sleep and self-care and, therefore, early morning training sessions may be detrimental to our well-being.
Why I don’t use an alarm clock
At 6 am when all the other personal trainers are with their first clients of the day, I’m still sound asleep. Here’s why.
I don’t train clients in the early mornings even though I have many clients who insist they’d like to train at 6 am. I even turn down clients who can only train at 6 am.
Almost all of these women who want to train at 6 am also confess to feeling tired later in the day when they train so early. But when I point that out to them, they only reluctantly concede that they may be better off staying in bed and getting exercise later in the day.
Why do they insist on training at 6 am even though they have ample time to get a workout in during the day? For many women, it’s a habit of continually pushing themselves year after year and even when there’s no real reason (ie. the kids are all grown up) they keep pushing themselves. Even if they don’t have kids, they constantly push themselves to be all things at work and in life in general.
Women are overstressed. Almost every single woman I train who is 30+ could use more sleep and self-care. Obviously if you have small children this may not always be possible but if you do have a young family, there’s some tough love for you later in this post.
So here’s the deal with 6 am training sessions and why I’m not about to start getting up earlier.
Getting up earlier than desired can increase stress
Studies have shown that your stress levels rise while you are sleeping in anticipation of having to get up earlier than desirable. Moreover, these studies suggest that stress hormones will be elevated throughout the night in anticipation of getting woken up early.
The need to control my stress levels is my number one reason that I don’t train clients at 6 am. Ever had a night of tossing and turning worrying about an early meeting, exam or flight? Well, this is me. When I have client sessions at 6 am I feel stressed about going to bed early and I wake up constantly through the night wondering if I’ve overslept. The rest of the day is usually a write off as well. I feel tired, cold and unable to concentrate all day.
When you are jolted awake by your alarm clock after a lousy night of sleep to go train at the gym, how on earth are you going to have enough energy for a good workout let alone the rest of the day? Moreover, those elevated stress hormones are going to negatively impact your willpower and ability to make good nutrition choices through the day. Studies also show that elevated stress hormones overnight negatively impact memory, thinking and mood.
What this means for you
Here comes the tough love part.
If you are a mother you might be saying, “well the only time I can train is early because I am busy with the kids in the afternoon”. Fair enough. But if you are one of those women who cares for the kids after work while your partner goes about his sports or activities, then you may want to consider why you are prioritizing his schedule over yours.
I see this again and again. Women who have been consistently coming to bootcamps all of a sudden can’t make it because their husbands have sports in the evenings. Is your exercise and wellbeing not equally important? You don’t have to put everyone else first all the time.
If you currently train at 6 am, have an honest look at your day:
- How do you feel later in the day?
- How’s your mood?
- How’s your appetite?
- Are you able to get out of bed with lots of energy or does the alarm clock jolt you awake every morning?
- Is there truly no other time that you could train if you put some effort into reorganizing your schedule or working in partnership with your spouse so that you can both exercise after work?
Sleep deprivation is a real stressor that can not only impact your ability to lose weight but constantly pushing yourself can be so damaging in many other ways.
To borrow the words of Dr Libby, stress is “changing the face of women’s health as we know it in such a detrimental way.” Stress impacts mood, appetite, body composition, hormone levels, libido, and ability to think clearly to name only a few. PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, infertility, and problematic menopause are all linked to stress.
Never before in my work have I witnessed so many females in a mad rush to do everything and be all things to all people. Never before have I seen the extent of reproductive system problems that I now see. Women are wired. … Tired but wired. Dr Libby, Rushing Woman’s Syndrome
Maybe you are one of the lucky ones who can get up early for training and have lots of energy the rest of the day.
As for me, I’ll be staying in bed so that I can bring my best to my clients, work, training and relationships later in the day.