Sleep Science-How Sleep Impacts Your Progress
With the “no-pain, no gain” mentality instilled in us when it comes to our training, sleeping more may make us feel guilty and even lazy.
Sleep is crucial for every bodily process. Without it, we will not function. Sleep plays a bigger role in your fitness goals than you may think. Once you understand exactly how much good it does for your body and mind, you may want to take a nap right now.
Motivation and Willpower
The most obvious and basic way that sleep deprivation can affect our fitness progress is that it decreases our energy and levels of motivation-making us less likely to train hard. Lack of sleep can even affect our willpower and our ability to make responsible decisions- like sticking to our fitness regimen.
Our entire body functions poorly when we do not sleep enough and so of course, our athletic performance may be weaker as a result. Sleep deprivation negatively affects our coordination, speed, agility, and memory- the qualities every boxer needs.
Sleep Deprivation Can Make It Harder To Lose Weight
A healthy hormone balance is essential for weight loss, muscle gain, and fitness. Not getting enough sleep can sabotage our weight loss goals in several ways.
- It can make clean eating that much more challenging as unhealthy food cravings increase when we are tired.
- Fatigue slows your metabolism as every process in the body functions at a reduced rate when we are fatigued.
- Sleep deprivation disrupts your entire endocrine system,
Sleep Deprivation Can Make It Harder To Gain Muscle
We all know we need rigorous exercise to grow our muscles but it is during sleep that the real growth happens. Our muscle fibers tear during a tough workout, but they are healed and made stronger during sleep. It is during the deeper stages of REM (Rapid Eye Movement- a measure of various stages of sleep) sleep that the body enters a higher anabolic state- meaning the body goes into production and repair mode-creating and repairing all cell tissues throughout the body, including muscle tissue. This is why lack of sleep can reduce our muscles’ ability to grow stronger.
Sleep Deprivation Can Prolong Injuries and Recovery Time
Our body works hard to repair and renew itself while we sleep. This is especially needed when we are recovering from injuries and illnesses that get in the way of our training progress. So, lack of sleep will only prolong recovery time and your training progress.
Sleep and Hormones Which Affect Fitness
Every system in the body relies on sleep to function adequately. One of the most crucial systems affected by sleep loss is our endocrine system, as mentioned previously. The endocrine system produces and regulates all the hormones we need to reach our fitness goals.
Here are some examples of the major hormones related to our fitness goals and how they are affected by sleep:
When we lack sleep, our cortisol regulation gets disrupted. Cortisol has many vital functions in the body such as helping with glucose metabolism, regulating blood pressure, and even reducing inflammation. It is also one of our body’s “fight or flight” hormones, released in times of high strain and perceived danger.
Cortisol can be temporarily useful by providing us with the surge of energy we sometimes need. However, when this hormone becomes unbalanced, it can wreck long-term havoc on our fitness goals. Having too much cortisol in the body can negatively affect our metabolism and make us more likely to store fat. It can even keep us tense and anxious, making sleep even more challenging and thus, getting us stuck in a vicious cycle.
Even though it is the male sex hormone and men naturally have significantly higher amounts, both men and women have testosterone and need it for basic function and fitness improvements. Healthy levels of testosterone are necessary for muscle gain, performance, and energy. Lack of sleep can significantly lower testosterone levels in the body.
Insulin is necessary for regulating your body’s blood sugar levels and energy. When insulin levels are balanced, your body properly converts sugar from food into energy for exercise and functioning.
Sleep deprivation can increase insulin resistance, making your body unable to properly process the sugars from food and convert them into energy needed for activity. It makes you more likely to store this sugar as fat, instead of processing it for fuel.
Human Growth Hormone (HGH)
Sleep is necessary for the production of Human Growth Hormone- which promotes cell growth and repair, including muscle growth. HGH also boosts athletic performance.
The average amount of sleep recommended by the experts for the average adult is usually seven to nine hours. However, for athletes and those following a rigorous training schedule, more may be beneficial. Some professional athletes even claim to sleep up to 12 hours a night when training and competing.
How We Can Get More Sleep
Diet and sleep
Sticking to a healthy diet of minimally processed foods, including plenty of fresh vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains can improve our sleep. Try to avoid foods and beverages high in sugar and caffeine, especially within four hours of your bedtime.
Supplements and Sleep Aides
Fortunately, there are plenty of natural sleep supplements out there. Herbs such as Valerian root, lavender, and chamomile not only make delicious tea but have been proven to aid a restful sleep.
Mental and Physical Relaxation Techniques
Sleep preparation starts long before bedtime as accumulated stress and tension can get in the way of proper sleep. By regularly engaging in relaxation techniques, you can reduce the stress that messes up your sleep. Some of these techniques like meditation, massage therapy, and deep breathing exercises are very effective for relaxation and better sleep.
Who says you have to get all of your sleep in one go? Power-napping-- taking naps of 30 minutes or less-- has become a great health trend over the years because it works to boost energy, alertness, and even reverse some of the damage of a bad night’s sleep.
To get to bed earlier, you may need to change or prioritize some of your daily and nightly routines. Here are some tricks that may help you hit the sack:
Electronics and Sleep
We are bombarded with electronics in this day and age. Not only are the distractions from the smartphones and computers delaying our bedtimes, but electronics themselves can have a physiological effect on our body’s natural ability to fall asleep. This is because the short-wavelength artificial blue light emitted by many of these devices interferes with your body’s own circadian rhythm (your internal clock)-keeping your body stimulated and awake without you realizing. By avoiding these electronics up to an hour or even two before bedtime, you can improve your sleep. Try reading a hard copy book, journaling or any other relaxation technique before bedtime.
Set an Alarm for Bed
Try setting an alarm to remind you to start getting ready for bed, the same way you use one to get you up in the mornings.
Gradually Go To Bed Earlier
Trying to force ourselves to fall asleep hours before the time we usually do can be counterproductive and frustrating. Try going to bed just ten to fifteen minutes earlier than normal and gradually increase the amount of sleep until you are getting enough.
So you see, sleep is as important as everything else you do in your fitness journey. Isn't it good to know that training does not have to always be grueling work, but can also mean blissful sleep?
It's ok to make the time for yourself and prioritize the sleep you need as part of a healthy, balanced, effective training routine, where your vitality is as important as your performance. Insider tip: a Gloveworx Blitz Session is one way to ensure you’re adequately tired before bedtime.