You’ve been following every rule there is- you’ve been eating all of the right foods and none of the wrong ones, and you’ve been sweating every single evening or morning without fail. How come the weight isn’t melting off of you as it should? These questions can arise whenever someone undertakes a weight-loss challenge or even when your regular routine of diet and exercise is no longer doing the trick when it comes to keeping you in shape. There is a surprising factor in the midst, however, that most people tend to forget when it comes to exercise – Sleep.
It isn’t uncommon to go on a plateau or start slightly gaining weight once your body has become adjusted to a workout routine or a specific diet, but most people fail to remember that sleep has a major impact on your body and its physical functions. The amount of sleep a person gets on an average basis is the driving force behind your body’s ability to recover from injury as with the amount of energy available for each workout, and your diet is just the secondary force of fuel to drive the body forward.
Why is Sleep Important in Terms of Exercise?
Any healthcare professional or even personal trainer would recommend an average adult receive at least seven hours of sleep per cycle with maximum rest at nine hours. The number of hours of sleep you personally receive can fluctuate based on social life, existing medical conditions, etc. Provided that the majority of sleep received is within the realms of recommended hours, a night or two of lower sleep should not damage the body unless it is becoming the norm.
Without sleep, a person would start to suffer from memory loss, personality changes, and delayed response times. These changes focus mostly on the mental side of sleep deprivation whereas physical changes in the body are as follows but not limited to:
1) Higher risk of inflammation in muscles and joints – clinical studies have shown that a person who receives less than six hours of sleep a night will create higher levels of inflammatory proteins, slowing down recovery from an intense workout.
2) Decreased reaction time – a person who is sleep deprived is more likely to find themselves injured as their reaction time is drastically reduced, and they are more prone to distractions, which can be a dangerous combination during exercise.
3) Lower recovery time – it is during the deep REM sleep stage of the sleep cycles that your body will restore and repair any injuries to not only the internal components of the body but also the external. Without sufficient time spent in this sleep cycle, injuries will not heal as fast, and the pain levels will not be reduced until full healing has occurred.
4) Higher body weight – someone who is tired and drained most of, if not all, the time will notice that in order to increase energy levels, they tend to make unhealthy choices in the kitchen and during the workday. Incessant snacking on empty calories (think sugar, chips, pop, energy drinks) for energy boosts that can lead to unwanted weight gain even while maintaining an exercise schedule. This energy boosts only last for approximately one hour on the average person, so snacking will occur more frequently.
5) Less-than-prime immune system – without proper sleep coupled with your routine exercise, can dampen your body’s defenses, thus it is more common to catch a virus or disease. Most common illnesses are transferred from one host to another through contact or air. With sleep deprivation, blood cell counts are lower, and a weakening of the immune system will occur, making you more susceptible to airborne viruses at your local gym.
How Exercise Can Help You Sleep Better
Now that you are aware of the changes in the body due to sleep deprivation, it is also important to acknowledge how exercise can help a person sleep. Exercise releases feel-good hormones through the body and boosts energy levels to soaring amounts. Not only will a person sleep at a deeper level, they will crave sleep after adhering to an exercise routine. The energy levels of a person who sticks to a regular exercise routine will be high enough to carry them through the day without experiencing the sleepiness that can affect people in mid-afternoon.
Along those lines, when you do feel like hitting the sack, the mattress that you currently sleep on can also play a part in the amount of sleep you are receiving on a nightly basis. A proper mattress for most people should be comfortable and sturdy enough to evenly distribute your body weight and reduce movement. It should contour the body and leave you feeling refreshed in the morning without sleep-related aches. If you are considering improving the way you sleep at night, you should research a mattress that better supports your snooze after an exercise. Consider sites like thesleepjudge.com that caters honest reviews about mattresses along the spectrum- whether you’re on the heavy side or not.
Regardless of your reason for exercising, whether it is for weight loss or just for your overall health, a sufficient amount of sleep will never be the wrong decision. No one wants to experience life through a sluggish haze or moping through the best years of your life like a zombie.
Establish a bedtime routine that is both simple and productive by setting a bedtime that ensures the correct amount of sleep per night, avoiding stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol as well as by simply lowering both the brightness and temperature of your bedroom. Set aside all sources of outside entertainment (smartphone, tablets, etc.) before bed and remember – use the bedroom for only bedroom activities.
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