Blast Off: Sleep to get fit

You’ve likely heard that when it comes to sleep, getting seven to nine hours per night should be your goal.

You’ve likely heard that when it comes to sleep, getting seven to nine hours per night should be your goal. Sleep is a necessary part of life and when we lack it our bodies struggle, especially when it comes to exercise. Did you know that sleep, or lack thereof, can have a huge impact on your workout efforts? When you’re tired usually your motivation and energy levels tend to suffer, but your post-workout recovery period and even your muscle development can be affected as well. As important as diet and exercise are, without enough sleep the results you are looking for will be even tougher to achieve.

Having trouble losing that last 10 pounds? Not getting enough sleep can actually cause you to gain weight. When we sleep, two of the hormones we produce — leptin and ghrelin — can have a direct impact on what types of foods we eat and how often we feel hungry. Leptin is a hormone that is responsible for making you feel full and ghrelin is a hormone that increases your appetite. According to an article in the journal Best Practice and Research: Clinical Endrocrinology and Metabolism, lack of sleep decreases your level of leptin (meaning it’ll take you longer to feel full) and increases your levels of ghrelin (meaning your appetite will likely increase as well).  That’s two strikes against weight-loss! Thankfully the opposite is also true: sufficient sleep helps decrease hunger and can therefore help you to lose weight.

When you work on resistance training, in order for your muscles to develop and become stronger, they depend on growth hormones to repair and recuperate. This is because you actually cause tiny tears in your muscle fibres when you lift weights. As a result, your body needs ample time to recover and glorious sleep is the perfect solution! During sleep, the pituitary gland releases far more growth hormones than when you are awake, and the more growth hormones you have, the quicker your muscles will recover.

The next step is figuring out how to get a full seven to nine hours of sleep. For some of you, this is a walk in the park. For others, however, this can seem like a daunting task that is easier said than done. When is comes to bedtime, establishing a routine is a good place to start.  Once that clock turns 9:30 p.m., turn your focus away from stimulating electronics such as TV and other devices and pick up a book, listen to calming music, or meditate. By the time 10 p.m. rolls around, your eyelids should start to feel heavy and you should be ready for sleep. Try to have complete darkness in your room, including covering the light from your alarm clock. It may take a while, but be patient and eventually you’ll fall into a blissful sleep routine that will leave you feeling ready to take on the next day’s workout.

Wondering how else you can improve your sleep? Exercise! Fitness 4 Life offers many different types of programs such as personal training, group training and aquatic bootcamps, all suited to your individual needs. Contact us today and book your free consult and fitness assessment by logging on to our website at