Dear Greatist: Which Is More Important, Sleep or Exercise?

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Is it healthier to get 6 hours of sleep + a workout, or just 8 hours of sleep with no workout? #dailyDilemma — acohenNY via Twitter

We here at Greatist loooove writing about the link between sleep and exercise, but we haven’t tackled this particular question yet— mostly because there is no one-size-fits-all answer.

Here's what I can tell you for sure: If you get plenty of sleep but start to feel groggy mid-day, heading to the gym can be a quick pick-me-up. On the flip side, working out can also help us sleep more soundly at night (as long as you don't exercise right before hitting the sack). But things get tricky when it comes to choosing between snoozing and working out. For starters, we don't all need the same amount of sleep. While the average person requires seven to nine hours a night, one study found some people can thrive on as little as four. And while I'd hardly recommend trying to function on only four hours of snooze time, it’s worth noting your sleep needs may be different from your gym buddy's. So some might be fine heading to the gym after just six hours of sleep, while others need the extra rest time.

And missing out on necessary sleep is bad news. It can cause us to eat more fatty foods and gain weight— not to mention sleep is the all-important time our body uses to repair itself. Instead of sacrificing a full two hours of sleep, focus on getting exercise without a marathon gym visit. "One of the variables of a workout is duration," says Greatist Expert Linda LaRue. "I can't imagine anyone not having time to devote at least three times a week to a reasonable higher intensity 20- to 30-minute workout." And she makes a good point. While taking a quick snooze on your desk is probably a poor choice, it's a lot easier to work quick bouts of exercise into your day. Get up just 20 minutes early and walk to work at a brisk pace. Or try any of these 20 tips to speed up a workout.

Have you ever had to choose between exercise and sleep? What are your favorite tips to fit both into a busy schedule? Tell us in the comments below!

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