6 Ways Sleep Effects Your Exercise

6 Ways Sleep Effects Your Exercise

How the quality of your sleep may be impacting your exercise and health

    The benefits of sleep are not news to anyone, but did you know that the quality of your sleep can greatly effect your exercise?  While you might be lifting weights and running on the treadmill to improve your health, if sleep quality or quantity is lacking, you won’t be reaping the benefits of spending all that time in the gym.  Take a look at these 6 ways that sleep can impact your exercise.  We guarantee you’ll want to take a nap after reading this!

  1. Sleepy Time = Recovery Time

    Night time is when our bodies grow and repair muscle tissue and bone. According to Dr. Michael Breus, clinical psychologist and diplomate to the American Board of Sleep Medicine, recovery time during sleep is one of the most critical aspects to muscle contraction and protein building.  That’s because, while you sleep, your body releases a growth hormone that stimulates muscle growth and repair. If you’re not getting enough sleep after a workout, your muscles may not be able to recover and they may not be able to rebuild from the wear and tear of exercise leaving you more vulnerable for injury.  

2. Sleep helps with exercise intensity and pain perception.

    “Sleep deprivation causes an increase in the perception of pain,” says Breus. “The more tired you are, the more you perceive the exercise to be more difficult.” This means, that when you pick up those 15 pound dumbbells, they may feel more like 25 pounds.  When you’re tired, your body might feel more pain and exhaustion than if you had slept well the night before, even if your heart rate and metabolic rate has not changed! This means that if you’re trying to reach a new PR or increase your wights, catching some extra ZZZs may make all the difference.

3. Sleep impacts your metabolism.

    Not getting enough sleep may be thwarting your weight-loss goals. When we don’t get enough sleep, our body does not produce at much leptin, a hormone that’s responsible for making us feel full.  In addition, less sleep also increases your body’s levels of ghrelin which increases your appetite and makes you crave more food.  The combination of never feeling full with an increasing appetite for foods you crave is sure to derail your weight loss goals.  If you want to curb your appetite and make it easier to chose healthy foods, schedule more time for sleep so you’ll be less likely to reach for that bag of chips when your tired and not really hungry.  

4. Sleep effects your mood. 

    Less sleep makes you feel lazy and less motivated, which means you’ll be less likely to grab your exercise gear and head to the gym.  While you might not jump out of bed each morning, with a full night of sleep, you’re more likely to make it to that 7am session.    

5. Sleep greatly impacts your brain.

    Studies have shown that sleep can impact our cognitive functions which is important if you play any sports.  Sleep deprivation has been shown to decrease eye-hand coordination, accuracy, and reaction time.  Just one all-nighter can reduce reaction time by more than 300%; this is equivalent to being legally drunk. You probably would not head to the gym after tossing back several beers so working out after being awake all night would not be a good idea either.  Studies have also been shown that sleep loss does impair focus and memory. The brain struggles with decision making and absorbing new knowledge. This is important if you are learning a new exercise skill or are trying to choose between a risky vs safe exercise. 

6. Sleep may extend your exercise career.

    We’ve said it hear before at AIM; if you want to be healthy, exercise is non-negotiable.  That means exercising for the rest of our life.  If you can’t exercise and move, the quality and quantity of your life will be diminished. Adequate sleep is also non-negotiable if you plan on exercising for life.  A study out of the Martha Jefferson Hospital Sleep Medicine Center in Charlottesville, VA linked sleep with career longevity for professional athletes.  While most of us are not professional athletes, we should all be working to extend our “exercise careers.” Additionally, more sleep equals a better immune system which means you are better able to to fight off infections.  This means less days off from the gym and more time working towards your exercise goals and career.  

If exercise is important to you; make sleep a priority. Schedule your sleep just like you schedule your exercise and you’ll be on your way to hitting your exercise goals!