Everyone goes through periods of time when you feel tired or sluggish, and the last thing you want to do is tie up your laces and hit the gym. So what do you do if you have to choose between sleep and working out? We all know how important nutrition and exercise are in changing our body composition, but getting seven to eight hours of quality shut-eye is actually essential if you want to see quicker results.
During sleep, our bodies release growth hormones that are particularly important for tissue repair, body fat reduction and healthy immune function. Two of the hormones that are released — leptin and ghrelin — are directly linked to appetite and cravings. If you’ve had a restless sleep and then the following day could not seem to eat enough, you were likely experiencing the effects of leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is used by our bodies to control hunger. Basically, the more leptin you produce, the less hungry you will be. Ghrelin, on the other hand, increases appetite. If you’re feeling hungry, your ghrelin levels are high — and once you eat, they drop. When you don’t get enough sleep, leptin levels decrease (raising appetite) and ghrelin levels increase (also raising appetite). According to a 2004 study done by the Public Library of Science, sleep deprivation is co-related with eating habits and weight gain. The study found that those who were getting less than seven to eight hours per night not only ate far more, but also weighed considerably more than those who slept longer.
Sam Sugar, MD points out that scientific literature is very clear about the dangers of sleep loss and how it can affect several aspects of your well-being beyond possible weight-gain. He says, “Even one night of short-changed sleep can be bad for your health and excessive sleeplessness can result in increases in blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar — as well as weight gain.” Missing one or even two workouts doesn’t have the same extent of negative effects. So if you’re feeling tired due to a night of tossing and turning but had planned to exercise early, you will likely be better off taking that extra hour for sleep.
If this happens regularly, there are several ways to try to get a better night’s rest. For example, if you lay awake in bed, try getting up and doing something like reading a book or gentle stretching. Studies show that simply laying there awake may cause you to become anxious about not sleeping. Other tips include turning off TVs, computers and video games an hour before bedtime and facing your alarm clock away from you while you sleep. If all else fails, try to come up with a consistent bedtime routine. This can be as simple as sticking to a regular bedtime hour.
When it comes down to it, sleep is an unquestionably important factor in weight loss, but balance is the most crucial aspect. If you are well-rested, you’ll be able to exercise and will reap the benefits of both.
Still have more questions? Fitness 4 Life’s certified Personal Trainers are always available for free fitness assessments and consults. Call Kate 250-688-0221 or Hayley 250-688-0024 to schedule yours today. www.fitness4life.tv