Want the secret to improving fitness results? You don’t need to spend more time in the gym. You need to spend more time snoozing in bed! Sleep is one of the most powerful yet overlooked factors in your fitness success.
Here’s what you need to know about all those precious Zs.
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You Might Not Be Sleeping Enough
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that all adults aged 18 to 60 get seven or more hours of sleep per night. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that one-third of Americans aren’t getting enough shut-eye!
Sleep Is the Key to Wellness
According to Dr. Merrill Mitler, a sleep expert and neuroscientist at the National Institute of Health, “Sleep services all aspects of our body in one way or another: molecular, energy balance, as well as intellectual function, alertness and mood.”
Getting enough sleep each night can help you:
- Increase energy levels
- Reduce stress
- Regulate blood pressure
- Increase immunity
- Support mental clarity and memory
- Manage cravings and appetite
How Sleep Affects Your Exercise Performance
Getting more sleep can help you see gains in your exercise performance. A small study of Stanford swimmers found that once the swimmers increased their sleep, they were able to swim faster in a sport where fractions of a second decide the winner.
Alternatively, studies have found that skimping on sleep can diminish your strength during resistance training as well as make you feel fatigued sooner. If you’re wondering why you haven’t hit a strength PR in a while or why you feel like quitting on workouts early, you might need more shut-eye!
A good night’s sleep is crucial to recovering after a tough workout. Exercise zaps your body of glucose and creates microtears in your muscles and tissues. During sleep, your body restocks your glucose stores and repairs those microtears. That’s how you get stronger over time.
Your body also regulates your hormones during sleep, including performance hormones like testosterone and human growth hormone. If you want to get the most out of every workout, make sure you hit the hay after you finish hitting the weights!
Exercise Helps You Sleep
Exercise and sleep promote each other. A study by the National Sleep Foundation found that exercisers get better sleep than non-exercisers. Vigorous exercisers were the most likely to report getting a good night’s sleep almost every night of the week.
If you’re having trouble sleeping and counting sheep isn’t helping, try hitting the gym!
Need Help Getting Shut-Eye?
If you are tossing and turning every night, here are some helpful sleep suggestions:
- Exercise! (Just not right before bed)
- Go to bed at the same time each night to create a consistent sleep cycle
- Wake up at the same time each morning
- Shut off all electronics an hour before bed to let your mind and body unwind
- Do something to calm the nervous system before bed, like taking a bubble bath or practicing slow coordinated movements, such as Tai Chi