Getting A Good Night's Sleep Can Help You Achieve Your Fitness Goals
Written By: Taylor Rao
Have you ever heard the phrase, “It’s so easy, you could do it in your sleep?” Well, it turns out some things actually can be accomplished while you’re catching your nightly dose of zzz’s.
We’ve all been told what feels like a million reasons why it’s so important to get a good night sleep, and how the benefits of resting your head on the pillow for a certain amount of hours can improve your mental and physical health. Yet, some of us still don’t get in the habit of forming a solid sleep routine.
If you knew the impact your sleep schedule would have on your body’s ability to burn fat and stay fit, would it give you the push you need to finally make it happen? Well, we hope so --because it’s true. Check out a few fun facts about how sleep relates to your fitness routine, and then tell us what time you’ve decided to tuck yourself in at night.
A lack of sleep leads to poor nutritional decision making
According to WebMD, a lack of sleep results in your brain making poor decisions, especially when it comes to fueling your body the next day. If you clock less than 7-9 hours of rest per night, your brain will simply not perform as well as it should be if you had more rest. That means you might find yourself craving a takeout meal or some junk food, when on a more well-rested day, you could fight off the urge to head to the snack cabinet.
When you’re overtired, your brain is looking for the easy way out. And, if you keep up with a lack of sleep in your routine, your body will punish you by hanging on to fat for longer, AKA causing a cortisol spike that saves energy to fuel your body while you’re awake. There is a direct correlation between lack of sleep, obesity and risk of diabetes.
The better your sleep, the better your workout
You can drink as much pre-workout as you want, but there’s no substitute for what a good night’s sleep can do to make your time spent at the gym as productive as possible. While you sleep, your body is able to recover from physical activity and stay stronger for longer to prevent injury and fatigue.
When you don’t sleep much, your body produces less human growth hormone, your body’s built-in source of anti-aging and fat burning, which is also what helps fuel your recovery after a tough sweat sesh. Your body does some amazing things while you sleep so that you can kick ass all day long, don’t let your body down at the gym once you’ve already done the hardest part (getting yourself there).
Plus, if you sleep well and get to bed in plenty of time to clock your 7-9 hours, maybe you can make it to that early AM gym class instead of fitting it in after work after you’re already starting to get tired out. A study featured in Men’s Health from Appalachian State University says that those who workout in the early mornings have an easier time powering down their body at night --AKA, you’re tired, but you’ve earned it.
A good night’s sleep benefits mind and body
Whether you’re staying up late because you have a never-ending to-do list or because you’re trying to sleep and it’s just not working, a lack of sleep over time is going to negatively impact your mental health just as much as your physical health. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that over a third of American adults are not getting enough sleep (i.e. 7-9 hours per night), and trust us, you don’t want to be part of that statistic.
We all know what it feels like to have an occasional late night and feel the after effects all day long, and if you sustain this lifestyle over time, your mental health will decline alongside your physical appearance as you’ll continue to gain weight, become less motivated, and eventually let the pounds pile on without feeling like there’s anything can do anything about it.
Not to mention, the distractions that keep you up late --like smartphones, television, etc., can also be draining for your mental state. Try putting your phone and electronic devices away at least an hour before bedtime, and use that time to relax yourself with a book, meditation, or some one-on-one time in the bedroom with your significant other (or solo) to unwind in some more productive ways before bed.
Your metabolism will suffer without proper sleep
A fast metabolism is one of the key components to burning fat and allowing your body to process insulin and turn sugars and certain foods into energy for your body. As we age, our metabolism naturally starts to slow down, so you definitely don’t want to create a problem now that will already prematurely start the process.
Watch what you eat in the afternoon and the hours leading up to your bedtime routine, as coffee and other sources of caffeine can take up to six hours to move through your body. Avoid eating a huge meal close to bedtime and slowly wind down the caffeine consumption much earlier in the day to make sure you’re setting yourself up for a solid rest and keeping your metabolism as fast as it can be.