A better workout is only one deep sleep away. According to the CDC, adults need 7 or more hours of sleep. Any less than 7 hours revealed poorer health outcomes including serious conditions like obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. If enough sleep can reduce our risk from developing these conditions, what can it do for our workout? Turns out, sleep is the secret weapon to a better workout – for a number of reasons. So, let’s break them down.
Adequate sleep is essential to getting our body back into balance after a long day. It turns out that the hormones responsible for our sense of both satiety and hunger, leptin and ghrelin, become thrown off after a poor night’s sleep—and if short sleep time becomes a habit, these hormones can become chronically imbalanced. Lack of sleep results in decreases in leptin (the hormone that signals to us that we’re full) and increases in ghrelin (the hormone that signals to us that we’re hungry). The result? Increased appetite leading to increased food intake that in time could lead to weight gain.
Research also shows that sleep deprivation strongly impacts the prefrontal cortex of our brain – the area of the brain responsible for decision making. Pair that with an increased appetite, it’s likely that a chicken breast and broccoli won’t be on your dinner-time radar. Adequate sleep helps the body to regulate its hunger hormones and make better food choices, which ultimately make our workout that much better.
Hitting the gym after a sugar crash your thing? Sleep deprivation can cause us to crave more sugar. Sleep is responsible for regulating other key hormones involved in sugar metabolism: glucose and insulin. When we’re sleep deprived, our bodies become more insulin resistant, meaning that when we ingest sugar or carbohydrates, insulin is failing to respond as efficiently as it once did when our bodies were well-rested. So our bodies produce more insulin to make up for it. Insulin is a fat-storing hormone, so as insulin continues to increase in our body, so too does fat deposition—not the type of gains we’re looking for.
Statistics show that those who are sleep deprived are more likely to be physically inactive than those who aren’t sleep deprived. Turns out, simply by increasing the amount of sleep you get per night increases your motivation to workout. The opposite is true if you don’t get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation also leads to decreased exercise performance. While there may be some physiological reasons at play, the less-than-optimal exercise performance is actually based on one’s perceived effort: exercise just feels a lot harder after a bad night’s sleep.
While a good night’s sleep can get us motivated to get to the gym, a good workout can become a great workout by following it up with a solid night’s rest. When we activate the parasympathetic nervous system during sleep, we trigger the body to go into healing mode. In this state the body is promoting protein synthesis and repairing muscle that was torn during that day’s workout. Growth hormone—another key hormonal player—is also boosted during sleep. In fact, it’s estimated that up to 75% of human growth hormone is released during sleep. HGH triggers protein production while promoting the utilization of fat, and actually combats the negative effects of insulin (that fat storage hormone).
Master the fundamentals of sleep so that you can boost the power of your workouts with these simple tips:
1. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, especially in late afternoon and at night. Both caffeine and alcohol will impact the quality of our sleep. So even if we get adequate hours in, we might not feel rested.
2. Set a sleep schedule. Your body loves predictability so try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day for better hormonal balance and sleep.
3. Turn off the tech at least 3 hours before bed. If that’s not possible, switch your tech into “night mode” which creates yellow-coloured veil on your screen, preventing your eyes from taking in blue light, a type of light that sends a signal to our body to wake up. We also love blue light blocker glasses.
4. Eat a protein-rich snack before bed, especially foods containing tryptophan like turkey, nuts, cheese or oats. These will help boost melatonin, the sleep hormone.
Tell us how you get your 7 hours of sleep by tagging us @reflexsupplements on Instagram, or by using the hashtag #ReflexNation. We’d love to know what you do to boost sleep for a better workout.
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