Without good sleep, even the best diet and fitness habits won’t be very effective
- Sleep deprivation
- Sleep and fitness
- Fitness and sleep
- Top tips for making sleep a priority
We know that eating right and staying active are key to maintaining a good physique, but getting the most out of your healthy lifestyle means more than just hitting diet and exercise. If you’re not paying attention to your recovery, you could be shortchanging your improvement. So if you’re stuck in a rut or not seeing results after consistently maintaining a good diet and exercise routine, it’s time to take a look at your recovery habits.
After all, what good is tracking your macros and logging miles on the treadmill if you don’t get the results you want? When it comes to maximizing your fitness gains, make sure you consider your sleeping habits.
Sleep deprivation is a public health crisis
According to the CDC, more than one-third of Americans are chronically sleep deprived. Whether it’s from sleep disorders or simply skipping out on your eight hours a night, sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on your health and mood. Since over 100 million people in the U.S. aren’t getting enough sleep, the phenomenon has been classified as a national public health crisis.
And it’s not just about feeling peppy in the morning; sleep is essential to our overall health and ability to function. Going without adequate sleep is linked to many health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, and depression.
How does sleep impact fitness?
Rest and recovery are crucial components of your fitness routine. Recovery time, including sleep, allows your body to rebuild and repair the biological systems that have been worked during exercise. Recovery is also the period of time during which the body releases fitness-boosting hormones such as human growth hormone, a naturally occurring growth hormone that helps the body build muscle, fight aging, and stay lean.
It may seem like common sense, but a surprising number of people put all of their efforts into hard work at the gym only to skip recovery. Because recovery is essential to the muscle-building process, if you ignore your needs for sleep and rest, then you’ll be putting in all that hard work for nothing.
When you’re well rested, you can reap the added benefits of more willpower and motivation to stick to your exercise routine, better concentration, increased focus, and an improved overall mood.
How does fitness impact sleep?
Just as sleep affects your fitness journey by improving your willpower and focus, being active helps you sleep better. Longer, deeper sleep is a by-product of exercise, and if you’re one of the millions of people in the country with sleep deprivation, better sleep can make a world of difference in your health.
If you’ve ever experienced the satisfying feeling of deep sleep after a long hike or a killer spin class, you’ll know this is true. If you incorporate exercise into your regular routine, you’ll reap those benefits on a daily basis. Exercise helps boost the circadian rhythm (our internal clock), which in turn helps us get sleepy at night and wake up refreshed in the morning. It also has been shown to enhance the hormone adenosine, which is responsible for making us feel tired and sleepy.
Make sleep a priority
Struggling to fit in your eight hours every night? Here are a few tips for making sleep a priority:
- Create a sleep goal: The first step in getting more sleep is making the decision to make sleep a priority. Often, when life gets busy, sleep is the first thing to go. Resist the urge to cut your sleep short, and make a concrete goal to reach for every night.
- Give yourself a bedtime: Don’t waste time in the evening watching TV or scrolling on your phone. Pick a bedtime, and discipline yourself to stick to it.
- Stick to the same sleep schedule every day: You can assist your body’s natural rhythm by maintaining consistent sleep and wake times throughout the week. Try not to stay up late and sleep in on the weekends, as this will throw your body clock off when Monday morning rolls around.
There’s a lot of power in a great night’s sleep, and it might be just the thing you need to jump-start your fitness journey.
Treat rest and recovery as part of the training
In the end, sleep and recovery are important parts of any fitness routine. Don’t waste all of your hard work in the gym by skimping out on your recovery periods. It’s not always easy to prioritize sleep, but when you do, it can make a world of difference.
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