Whether you need to lose weight, gain weight, build muscles, or totally transform your body, sleep is crucial for every fitness process.
Most of us find ourselves longing to lose weight and get fit at some point. So we watch what we eat and drink while working out as faithfully as we can.
Despite the old admonishments concerning “calories in, calories out”, there’s far more to weight loss and fitness than meets the eye.
In fact, there’s one simple lifestyle modification you can make that’s likely to have a major impact not only on your waistline but on other areas of your life as well.
Yes, I’m talking about good, quality sleep. Let’s see how it can affect your life and what to do to get enough rest at night.
How Poor Sleep Affects Your Fitness
Whether you’d like to improve your fitness level overall, lose a few pounds, or transform your body with a major weight loss, sleep can play an important role.
In fact, some research suggests that it might be as important as your efforts to exercise and eat right.
Don’t feel bad if you’re not making sleep a priority right now – you’re not alone.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sleep disorders affect approximately one-third of adults.
Studies have shown that inadequate sleep is linked with a number of chronic conditions including obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and depression.
There are a few reasons for the connection between sleeping bad and weight. Here is what sleep deprivation is messing with your body:
1. Increases Your Appetite
If you’re not sleeping well, it’s likely that you have an increased appetite, which is brought on by imbalances in the hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin.
You might be familiar with cortisol, the “stress hormone” that increases appetite when present in excess. Cortisol levels tend to be elevated in people who don’t rest adequately, so your efforts at weight loss may feel much harder when you’re not getting enough shut-eye.
2. Makes You Take Poor Decisions
It can be tough to make good choices when you’re exhausted. This isn’t a reflection on your efforts at all.
In fact, your brain’s frontal lobe activity is decreased when you’re not sleeping enough. This area is where self-control and decision-making functions reside, so the feelings of struggle that take place when you’re trying to make good food choices or get to the gym are absolutely real!
3. Makes You Eat More Sugar
Making matters even worse, the brain’s reward centers receive more stimulation from food when you’re tired. This biochemical response makes it even harder to resist sugary snacks and carb-laden treats even when you know that they’re not doing you any favors.
How Quality Sleep Improves Your Life
The good news is that fixing your sleeping issues can also help you fix other problems. And, when you get enough sleep, you get more benefits from every exercise session, as well.
Exercise benefits associated with sleep include better athletic performance, less fatigue, and better recovery.
There’s more: When you’re getting plenty of sleep, you feel more energetic overall, and you’ll feel far more motivated to exercise.
Sleep has many functions. It’s vital for brain health and memory formation, and it’s essential for good immunity, too.
Your endocrine system requires sleep to function correctly, and your musculoskeletal system needs that time to make essential repairs.
Being well-rested ensures that every workout counts toward building strength and endurance, too. You’re not imagining things if you feel like working out takes far more effort when you’re sleep deprived!
Because the average recommended amount of sleep is between seven and nine hours depending on individual needs, you might need to add between one and three hours of sleep to your nightly tally if you’re hoping to bridge the gap.
Tips For Sleeping Better
Sleep is a normal biological function, but that doesn’t mean it always happens automatically for everyone.
Modern amenities like TV, smartphones, and even basic electric light bulbs can trick the brain into wakefulness, making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Stress and anxiety can take a toll, and physical discomfort can make it tough to fall asleep even when we’re bone-tired.
Here are a few ways to address common sleep problems head-on:
1. Get To Know Your Circadian Rhythms
Just like other living things, our bodies rely on light for a number of functions.
Greet each new day by spending at least a few minutes in the sun or exposed to bright light if sunlight isn’t available. And end every day by treating yourself to the comfort of dim lighting.
It can be difficult to wean yourself from habits like playing games on your phone, watching TV, and interacting with electronics in other ways, but setting a “stop” time about an hour before bed will give your brain time to recognize that it’s nighttime – and that means time to settle down for sleep.
2. Get A Good Mattress
If you’re sleeping on an uncomfortable mattress, you’re not getting quality rest.
Tossing and turning, waking up frequently, feeling discomfort, and waking up sore are some signs that your old mattress is ready to be replaced.
The newest mattresses – including some of the best memory foam mattresses on the market according to Sleeping Culture – are incredibly affordable, and many companies will throw in nice extras like free delivery, comfy pillows, and other goodies like extended sleep trials and free returns. Most offer financing of some kind, making it even easier to say yes to something that’s likely to make a massive difference in sleep quality and quantity.
3. Listen To Chill Music
Try white noise, soft music, or a sleeping podcast.
If pervasive thoughts keep your brain from settling down, you’ll find that distraction works wonders.
YouTube is a great source for white noise tracks, sleep meditations, bedtime stories for grownups, and more. There are plenty of sleep podcasts out there, too.
Just be sure to darken your screen or place your device face-down while you’re listening.
Or consider investing in a white noise machine. For some people, the simple sound of a fan works wonders.
By following these helpful sleep tips, you’ll find that your entire life feels better – and you’ll find it is far easier to lose weight and get fit, once and for all.