Updated: Jul 11, 2020
We have all heard before that getting a proper night’s rest is very important. Since we were young, we were told that sleep is important and our parents were strict about bed time. And if you are a parent right now, you will probably nod your head in agreement.
But why exactly do we hammer on the importance of good sleep? And how does your sleep routine affect your training?
When we talk about our health and fitness journey, most people would immediately refer to their exercise routines and healthy eating habits. But sadly, very little of us would mention that proper sleep is just as important as the above mentioned, in order to really live a healthy lifestyle!
To start off with the obvious factors – sleep is important for your energy levels. We all know how terribly long and exhausting a day can be if you haven’t had a proper night’s rest. The reason for this is pretty commonly known, as sleep affects several aspects of your brain function – such as cognition, concentration, productivity and performance.
In a working environment and even at home, we all can agree that the above mentioned are very important factors in life as we know it. We are living in a society where everything is fast paced and almost instant! And productivity and performance are key in every aspect of our lives – at home, at work and during your workouts.
Sleep plays a vital roll in our health and it often gets neglected due to overloaded schedules. Did you know that when you sleep – your body goes into repair mode? It is of vital importance to get adequate sleep in order for your body to function at its best the next day. Getting proper sleep on a regular basis is also key factors in maintaining a healthy weight by preventing excessive weight gain and preventing heart disease and several other illnesses.
According to Healthline, studies have shown that adults as well as children, with short sleep duration were 55% and 89% respectively more likely to develop obesity! And that simply because of a lack of adequate sleep! It’s been found that short sleep can impact the brain’s functionality in a similar way that alcohol intoxication does!
On the flip side, proper sleep – have proven to improve problem solving skills and enhanced memory performance of both adults and children.
Now you might ask, how could bad sleep affect your weight? Well, poor sleep affects several functions of your body such as your hormonal balances. And poor sleep, since your feeling drained the next day – will also result in less motivation to exercise.
If weight loss is your goal – sleep is absolutely CRUCIAL! And if your fitness trainer hasn’t told you that, maybe it’s time to re-asses their qualifications! There is no point in paying for a program or service if they do not inform you about the full picture of how you can achieve your goals. I know we are derailing from the topic – but this needs to be said.
The success of your health and fitness journey depends on three major aspects: Exercise, healthy eating AND proper sleep!!!
Studies have also repeatedly shown that people who get adequate sleep – tend to eat less. People who are sleep deprived tend to have a bigger appetite/craving – and let’s be honest – you’re probably not craving the healthiest foods on those days.
Poor sleep disrupts your body’s hormonal levels and will cause fluctuations in appetite hormones which will over an extended period of type alter your body’s ability to regulate your appetite in general – not only when sleep deprived. When you don’t sleep well, your body releases higher levels of ghrelin (appetite stimulating hormone) and reduced levels of leptin (appetite suppressing hormone). Which will result in? You eating more than you should. All because of a bad night’s sleep!
Did you know that sleep is actually also CRITICAL for the health of your heart?!
Your sleeping patterns can actually reveal vital information about your overall health levels and personal well-being. Most adults need at least 7 hours, preferably 8 hours, of sleep every night to function optimal. How many of us actually get 7 hours of sleep every night? (Take a moment of appreciation right now if you are not a mom yet – cause we’re probably getting more sleep in than the moms out there). The amount of sleep every individual need will vary and depends on several factors including your age.
Health conditions that are linked to a lack of sleep includes: High Blood Pressure, Type 2 Diabetes and Obesity.
Surely, we all can survive a few bad nights with short hours of sleep. But the problem comes in when this cycle continues over an extended period of time.
Over time, poor sleep can hurt your heart! Conditions such as sleep apnea can occur. Sleep apnea happens when your airway gets blocked repeatedly during your sleep – which causes you to stop breathing for short periods of time. Sleep apnea have been directly linked to obesity and heart failure. Sleep apnea directly affects how much oxygen your body gets while you sleep, which as result higher your risk of other health problems such as high blood pressure, heart attacks or strokes.
Irregular hours of sleep every night affects your blood sugar levels and reduces your body’s sensitivity to insulin. Studies have shown the people who sleep less than 6 hours per night for an extended period, often starts to shown symptoms of pre-diabetes. In this study, the effect on the body was monitored when the participants started to get more than 6 hours of sleep every night for a week. And in a week’s time, doctors and scientists were already able to see drastic positive changes in the body’s ability to regulate insulin levels.
How do you know if you’re getting enough sleep?
According to Sleepnet.co.za – if you’re experiencing symptoms such as sleepiness during the day. Snoring, leg cramps or tingling sense in your legs (more commonly known as restless legs syndrome), gasping or difficulty breathing when sleeping, prolonged insomnia or any other symptoms that prevents you from sleeping well – you are probably not getting enough sleep and it would be a good idea to consult with your physician to determine the underlying cause.
Ignoring these symptoms will only cause more damage to your body in the long run!
Poor sleep or sleeping disorders are also linked to depression. Research has shown that approximately 90% of people who suffer from depression – complains about the quality of their sleeping routines. People who suffer from sleeping disorders such as insomnia or sleep apnea – have also indicated a significant higher risk of depression than those who do not suffer from sleeping disorders.
Poor sleep is linked to increased inflammation. Anyone suffering from inflammatory bowel disease (IBS)? How much sleep do you get every night? A lack of sleep has shown to activate markers of inflammation and cell damage that can become permanent if continued for long periods of times.
So, what does sleep have to do with my exercise routine directly?
In addition to all of the above; sleep improves your immune function. Research has shown that people who sleep more than 8 hours a night are 3 times less likely to develop a cold or common flu. And we all known, in order to exercise – you need to be healthy.
Good sleep has been shown to enhance overall athletic performance and improved functional abilities!
Sleep gives your body time to recover, conserve energy and repair and build up the muscles that worked during exercise. When you get adequate sleep, your body produces the growth hormone – a hormone which is essential for athletic recovery. Sleep is the time where the concentration of growth hormone (which contributes to muscle growth and repair) in the body is at its highest. So if you’ve been exercising, whether through strength training, cardio exercise, or something, it’s key to get a good night’s sleep and let your body do its job to strengthen and repair! Not to mention, a lack of sleep can affect strength and power, energy stores, and increase your risk of injury!
To finish this off… Proper sleep is a vital part of your health and fitness journey and should be given the same level of attention that you’d give to your exercise and eating habits!