How Sleep Can Benefit Your Health and Your Workouts

How Sleep Can Benefit Your Health and Your Workouts

By Jenna Hope

We all spend so much time running from place to place with our fully prepped tupperwares, 2L water bottles and our gym kit on standby. All this time we spend trying to be the healthiest we can often eats into our sleep time. Many of us will happily cut our hours of sleep if it means we can fit in a workout before work. Now, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing; I’m just suggesting that sometimes we should prioritise our sleep. If you want to get the most from your health and your workouts prioritising sleep might just be the answer. Here’s what happens when you consistently cut into your sleep time and how it can affect your workouts.

1.Increased weight: research suggests that less sleep is associated with a higher BMI and cravings for high sugar, high fat foods. Furthermore, research suggests that the later you go to sleep the more food you consume after 8pm further contributing to weight gain and insulin resistance. It is advisable to go to sleep earlier and wake up earlier rather than sleeping later and waking up later.

 2. Reduced immune functioning: sleep loss combined with exercise can cause the promotion of pro-inflammatory cytokines which could stimulate inflammation and reduce immune function. Exercising when you’re fully rested will cause inflammation but the effects are worsened when combined with poor sleep.

3. Potential reduced sporting performance: research suggests that performance of sports requiring cognitive-reliance input may be significantly reduced as a result of lack of sleep. However, this research has found to be conflicting in a variety of sports and so the evidence is not fully conclusive.

4. Fatigue and sleepiness: poor sleep quality and duration has been associated with shorter and less effective workouts. Research also suggests that those who go to sleep earlier and wake up earlier show greater levels of physical activity.

The relationship between sleep and exercise is bi-directional; this means that as much as sleep may affect exercise, research has suggested that exercise may aid sleep in severe sleep disorders. More research is required to understand the relationship between less-severe sleep disorders and exercise.

Evidently, sleep is crucial for your workouts and your sporting performance. If you really want to get the most from your health, it is essential to realise that sleep is not for the lazy but is a key ingredient in the recipe for success.