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Are Your Sleep Habits Derailing Your Fitness Goals?

Are Your Sleep Habits Derailing Your Fitness Goals?

What keeps you from getting a solid 8 hours of sleep each night? Work? Party? TV? Netflix? A good book?

Regardless of what’s stealing your Z’s, it’s a problem. Your performance - both mental and physical - suffers when you run on just 5 or 6 hours of sleep.

Want to build more muscle at the gym? Trying to stick to a marathon training plan? Determined to lose weight before your upcoming trip?

You need to make sleep a priority. If you don’t, your bad sleep habits can derail your fitness goals.

The Importance of Sleep

Sleep is essential for life. Sleep deprivation is a serious problem, especially in Western societies. People seem to be getting busier every day, leaving them with less time than ever before for sleep.

What happens if you don’t get enough sleep? Your body will feel it the day after. You’ll be drowsy and find it hard to concentrate. Your mood may suffer as well. People who get little sleep tend to be more irritable.

Are you getting enough sleep? There’s an easy way to tell. If you get drowsy during the day - even when doing something boring - you didn’t get enough sleep. Ever crash into bed and fall asleep in 5 minutes or less? It’s another classic sign that you need to sleep more.

How Much Sleep Is Enough?

For most adults, 7-8 hours of sleep each day is ideal. According to Steven Feinsilver, Director of the Center for Sleep Medicine at Mount Sinai, you don’t necessarily have to sleep those hours all at once. Early afternoon naps are great for getting in a few extra minutes of sleep and feeling better for the rest of the day.

Sleep Habits Affect Weight Loss

While you sleep, your body releases leptin, a hormone that make you feel full. This controls hunger and prevents the cravings that lead to overeating. When you don’t get enough sleep, leptin levels drop. You feel less satisfied when you eat. And you tend to reach for junk snacks in an attempt to feel full. 

If you want to stay fit, lose weight, and control cravings, getting plenty of sleep should be a priority.

Sleep and Fitness

Want to lift more, run faster, and achieve your fitness goals? Then you’ve got to make time for more sleep.

A 2011 study from Stanford University looked at the effects of sleep on college basketball players. Researchers found that “sleep is an important factor in peak athletic performance.” They determined that “athletes may be able to optimize training and competition outcomes by identifying strategies to maximize the benefits of sleep.”

The athletes followed their typical sleep routine for the first few weeks of the study. They slept for 6-9 hours nightly. Researchers then analyzed their fitness level using a few simple exercises. 

Following that, participants slept 10 hours each day for several weeks. Their results were measured again. The results? Fatigue levels had dropped, sprints were faster, and free throws were more accurate. 

Think you can catch up on sleep the day before an intense workout or a big game? One of the lead researchers from the same study says no. Instead, sleep should be a priority over a long period of time. This is about make smart lifestyle changes that improve your fitness and health. 

Take Sleep Seriously

Want to look and feel your best? Hoping for big returns from your trips to the gym?

You could be working hard for nothing if you’re not taking sleep seriously. Make getting 8 hours each night a definite priority.

You’ll be more productive at work. Your mood will improve. And you’ll stay on track to make your fitness goals into reality. 

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