Surprising Ways Sleep Affects Physical Training

One in three adults don’t get enough sleep. It’s common knowledge that you need a healthy diet and appropriate exercise routine, but sleep often falls to the wayside. This is especially true if you’re trying to fit in both a vigorous training schedule and keep up with a booming social life. Your best-laid plans may not work out as well as they could if you’re not catching enough Z’s.

Increased Cortisol Level

Missing sleep can raise your body’s cortisol levels, which can contribute even more to low energy, fatigue, and poor concentration. Worse yet, high cortisol levels for an extended period of time results in a net loss of protein in your tissue – and yes, that means weaker muscles. Science also points to prolonged elevated cortisol causing many health issues. This might not be the case for you right now, but research shows a direct correlation between high cortisol and inflammation in the body, among other things. Get the sleep you need by making a few changes to your space in the evening. Remove light disturbances by turning off the TV and avoiding digital devices for an hour before bed. Other disruptions include noise, temperature, and poor comfort. You can invest in ear plugs, look into a different blanket or fan for night-time use, and upgrade your bed (especially if you’re stiff and achy in the morning). Maybe you need something firmer, or softer; you can refer to a specialist based on your physique, and then read mattress reviews to find a bed that’s just right.

Failure to Thrive

Whether you’re looking to get bigger or faster, lack of sleep might undermine your body’s true potential. Your body produces the growth hormone as a result of factors like getting enough quality sleep. This hormone is vital for building lean muscle, repairing muscular damage from intense activity, and slowing the aging process. If you’re low on this hormone from lack of sleep, you’ll not only feel listless and fatigued, but studies show it also increases your body fat, particularly around the waist. So if you’re not getting the sleep you need, you could be sabotaging yourself. Consider skipping the midnight drink special with your friends and getting to bed on time instead. When they see your gains, they’ll understand.

Lower Intensity

There’s a vicious cycle when it comes to sleep and exercise that you may not be aware of. Sleep, as established here, is important for your best performance. Exercise plays a vital role in sleep as well, with 150 minutes (minimum) of exercise per week deemed the “sweet spot” per the Sleep Foundation. However, if you engage in high-intensity workouts too close to bedtime, the increase in heart rate and endorphins can prevent you from getting to sleep. This is also in part due to the elevation in cortisol that exercise, itself, causes, which should be naturally higher in the morning, and lower for sleep at night, according to research done by Hokkaido University in Japan.

In summation, lack of sleep raises cortisol, which can reduce your physical potential, and yet vigorous workouts before bed also raise cortisol, which can impact your ability to sleep, in addition to the increase in endorphins and heart rate. This will very quickly reduce your ability for high-intensity, which makes your workouts in the following days not up to snuff. It’s a tricky balance to maintain. Stick to less intense workouts if it’s close to bedtime, like yoga and other body exercise for strength training to help find harmony.

You need quality sleep in order to train at your best. You need physical activity in order to sleep well, is also true. The key is to make adjustments as needed in order to create a balance that works for you.

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