How do I make an intelligent choice between sleep and exercise?

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Are you referring to getting more sleep or getting less sleep so you can exercise?  Guessing that you are referring to knowing how much sleep is needed in order to get full benefit from exercise then use this advice as some assistance and please let me know if I am able to assist further.

Your body needs at least 6 ½ hours of sleep in order to receive full benefit from exercise.  With that amount of sleep, you should be able to get a solid 20-30 minutes workout in of some sort.  If you feel you are short on time then we need to re-focus your schedule and find ways to get exercise in.  As you surely know, exercise is vital to a sound mind and body so be sure to figure out what you can cut out from your day to get in your exercise.

Also, I would recommend shooting for 7-8 hours of sleep but everyone functions differently.

If you can, do both on a regular basis.
The data shows that people who exercise regularly are often good quality sleepers. However it is not known if the exercise is what makes their sleep so good.
When to exercise depends on the type of exerciser you are. 
There are typically two types of people, those who gain energy from exercise (these people should exercise in the morning ) and those who become relaxed from exercise (these people can exercise closer to bedtime or have an evening workout). 
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
For the most benefits, you must get at least 6 1/2 hours of sleep a night, and you should be able to find 20 to 30 minutes a day to do brisk walking (or another cardiovascular exercise), strength training, or flexibility training like yoga. But health isn't a version of Let's Make a Deal-you pick one box (sleep) over another (exercise).

What you have to do is figure out ways to make sure you get the right amounts of both. If that means re-organizing your life to schedule physical activity, good. If it means missing a Sex & the City rerun to squeeze in a workout, fine. If it means that you have to end your relationship with Messers. Stewart and Leno to hit the pillow a little earlier, so be it. (Sorry, Jon and Jay.)
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.