When we think of a typical routine, we may instinctively think of the gym, workouts and sweat. But sleep? Not so much. While sleep may not seem to naturally fit a typical fitness routine, it’s imperative in ensuring we get the most bang for our buck from our workouts and healthy lifestyle. Here are some reasons why sleep is an essential part of your fitness routine.
3 Reasons Why Sleep is an Essential Part of Your Fitness Routine
1. Lack of Sleep Produces Stress Hormones
If you aren’t getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep every night, you won’t just be tired–you’ll be causing a huge amount of stress on your body. If you’re consistently sleeping less than seven hours every night, this can cause your body to produce more stress hormones (cortisol) than it normally would. These excess stress hormones can make your body enter into a catabolic state, which has the effect of breaking down muscle and storing fat cells–pretty much the opposite of what we want to happen! And of course, you’ll notice that your energy levels will take a turn for the worse, making it harder to go and kill your workout.
2. Sleep Deprivation Makes it Harder to Fight Cravings
Not only do we wake up feeling tired and grumpy from a short night of sleep, we also have a harder time fighting off cravings. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinoloy and Metabolism found that chronic sleep deprivation triggers the part of your brain that increases your need for food while also depressing leptin and stimulating ghrelin.
These two hormones are important to remember because they control your hunger levels. When your body depresses the amount of leptin it is producing, the emptier your stomach will feel. And when ghrelin production levels are stimulated, your hunger levels increase, the amount of calories you burn are reduced, and the amount of fat you store is increased. A recipe for disaster when you’re trying to shed the last five pounds!
3. Recovery Time is Slower Without Proper Sleep
You may be putting in the work, and really pushing yourself in your workouts but without sleep, you won’t reap the full results. Sadly, chronic sleep deprivation decreases protein synthesis, which can lead to muscle loss, and a higher rate of injuries. If a major goal of yours is to increase your strength, and to put on muscle, you need at least seven hours of sleep to ensure your goals are being met. Furthermore, a lack of sleep slows down the production of growth hormone which aids recovery.
What’s the Solution?
Sleep is incredibly important and not something you should take for granted. Our modern society collectively embraces the idea of “work hard, play hard,” leaving little time for sleep. It’s time to embrace the idea of being “sleep conscious,” a term coined by Tomorrow Sleep.
So what is being “sleep conscious”? It’s the understanding that, while we should be averaging around seven to nine hours of sleep per night, we must remember that sleep quality matters more than the number of hours we sleep. Sleep trackers are on way to help just stay in touch with, and aware of, the quality of sleep we are actually getting. I’ve used sleep trackers in the past, and they always surprise me–they provide so much insight into the quality of sleep I’m getting and provide helpful ways to get better sleep.
Another, more obvious solution, is to ensure your bed is comfy and conducive for sleep. If not, it might be time to buy a new one!
Please share your best sleep tips below and let’s all strive to get more, better quality sleep!