Does it take a quad-shot americano to get you through the afternoon?
Do you sometimes try to talk yourself out of that last set?
If you answered yes to any of the above, you might be sleep-deprived. Studies show that 35% of Americans aren't getting enough recommended sleep. Sleep deprivation is linked to increased risk of chronic illnesses like diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and mental distress. Similar to the effects of alcohol, sleep deprivation can decrease reaction time and make it difficult to focus as well. All of which can make your next trip to the gym a total disaster. Read on for three ways sleep affects your workout, and three practical tips you can use to get a better sleep session, starting tonight.
3 WAYS SLEEP IS CRUCIAL TO IMPROVING YOUR WORKOUT
A good night's rest is one of the best things you can do to make your workouts as effective as possible, and there are two reasons why. Firstly, the effort you put into all those crunches/squats/curls/deadlifts isn't what accounts for muscular growth. When you exercise properly, you're actually damaging your muscles and producing tears in their fibers. When you get a proper night's sleep, your body releases a growth hormone that replenishes these tears with lean muscle, which increases muscle mass and size! Secondly, your body produces melatonin while you're sleeping, which helps you recover from skeletal muscle injuries and relieves next-day soreness. Less soreness means you can crush your next gym session with less hesitation. Just make sure you're giving your muscles enough time to recover.
PRO TIP: Use the FitTrack Dara and the free FitTrack Pro app to monitor muscle mass and see how many Zzz's you need to optimize muscle growth!
You'll also have an easier time getting in the zone when you're well-rested. That's because sleep (and a lack thereof) can be a major influence on focus and attitude. Entering the rapid eye movement (REM) phase of sleep allows your brain to thoroughly recharge for the next day, improving memory, mood, and alertness. A positive state of mind can have a HUGE impact on a workout session. One study found that sleep deprivation can make a workout seem MORE difficult than it would be if your batteries were fully charged.
Speaking of which, sleep is essential for energy. Overnight, your body puts all of the healthy essential fats and metabolism-boosting foods to work in order to build up energy reserves for the following day. We don't need to cite a study for this one. Do you know that lethargic, everything-feels-so-heavy-including-my-eyelids-feeling you get after a criminally short night's sleep? That's what it feels like to run on an energy deficit. Having enough energy doesn't just get you to the gym in the first place. It helps you maintain form so that you exercise safely as you work towards your goals.
HOW MUCH SLEEP DO YOU NEED?
TEENS (13-17): 8-10 HOURS
YOUNG ADULTS (18-25): 7-9 HOURS
ADULTS: 7-9 HOURS (26-64): 7-9 HOURS
OLDER ADULTS (64+): 7-8 HOURS
There's some wiggle room, but you should shoot for the above amount of sleep every night depending on your age. Struggling to get enough? Here are three quick tips you can start using tonight!
Stick to a schedule: Creating a routine and sticking to it will help you get more quality sleep. Try going to bed at the same time each night, and get ready for bed the same way when you do.
Have a buffer: Try not to exercise during the four hours before you go to bed. Working out revs up your body's engine and can disrupt sleep throughout the night.
Cut back on screen time: Electronic devices emit blue light that, during the evening, can disrupt your body's circadian rhythm (internal clock). For the best results, avoid screens two hours before bed. Now you can finally finish that book that's been sitting on the nightstand!
High-pressure jobs, "always-on" mentalities, and more access to digital media than ever before have all negatively impacted sleep for almost all of us. Now that you understand how vital sleep is to your workout, we hope you take some steps to make it a higher priority.
BONUS: Once you start getting enough sleep, you should notice improvements to certain health indicators, like body fat % (sleep deprivation has been linked to weight gain) in your FitTrack Pro app.
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