The Relationship Between Sleep and Fitness
When it comes to working out at the gym, we all know that how often you show up, what exercises you do, etc. are extremely important. Just as crucial, and often overlooked, is what you do outside of the gym — how much and what you eat and drink, and especially how you sleep.
In fact, you must get proper sleep in order for exercise to actually work. When you sleep, you are giving your body time to recover and repair/build the muscles you exercised at the gym. Additionally, when you get enough quality sleep, your body produces growth hormone – helping your body repair and build lean muscle.
The more sleep you get, the better rested you are, and the better your body and mind function — especially at the gym. Motivation, Performance, and Recovery are 3 of the main ways sleep helps fuel your workouts.
Similarly to working out with friends, quality sleep has been proven to increase motivation, helping you to stick to your exercise plans and get to the gym the next day. Alternatively, not getting enough sleep tends to make exercise feel harder. On less than adequate sleep, you fatigue faster, making it tougher to exercise to your max capacity.
Scientific research has identified multiple areas where performance decreases for athletes who don’t get enough or good quality sleep.
1. Reduction in cardiovascular fitness (being unable to run as long – or having to work harder to complete the same workouts)
2. Decreased ability to build muscle
3. Slower reaction times
4. Reductions in decision making and memory
5. Slowed recovery from injury
If someone taught you that you are building muscle while you are in the gym, they were wrong. While you’re exercising, you actually tearing muscle fibers, and while you rest your muscles repair themselves and grow stronger. Getting less than 8 hours of sleep per night is associated with almost 2x the risk of injury than if you were to get more than 8 hours of sleep per night. Both of these reasons are why most athletes get between 8 to 10 hours of sleep, because it is so crucial!
Bonus: 5 Sleep Tips!
- Sleep Cool (19-21 degrees)
- Sleep Sugar-Free (find a healthy alternative to sugar and caffeine drinks!)
- Sleep Dark (blinds/curtains closed)
- Sleep Quiet (turn off the TV, Youtube, and stop scrolling through funny fitness memes!)
- Sleep Consistent (consistent bed and wake time are recommended)