Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Guest Post: Better Sleep: Better Fitness

Image: www.freedigitalphotos.net

Yay, guest post today! This is one dear to my heart, and I have the pillow to prove it :-)

Better Sleep: Better Fitness

It might sound like kind of a wild idea: the fact that the more you sleep (or, the better you sleep) the more weight you can lose and the more muscle development you can achieve; after all, you're not really doing anything while you sleep, right?  Wrong, sleep is actually one of the most crucial events for your body's developments and the link to better overall fitness.

You've spent hours in the gym or running outside and given yourself plenty of rest in-between workouts, you've taken supplements and steps to eat right, you're getting up early to get your exercise in before work and staying up late to get one in after, but still your fitness remains immutable.  Even though you're doing everything you can for proper fitness in your waking state, your unconscious state is actually where everything transpires.  Plasma growth hormone, testosterone and erythropoietin are only released in your body when you sleep.  These nightly hormones are responsible for maintaining or building bone and muscular strength, oxygenating red blood cells, filtering carbon dioxide from your blood, assuring high energy levels and even decreasing fatty tissue in your body.  These hormones rebuild the damage from working out and convert your diet into protein synthesis; for more information about these individual hormones visit http://www.healthiertalk.com/how-much-sleep-do-you-really-need-be-healthy-0335.  Muscular growth, strength and endurance are contingent upon your body’s production of these hormones: for both the exerciser looking to build lean muscle or for the budding bodybuilder.  Arnold Schwarzenegger probably would have had an entirely different career if he had slept only four hours a night. 

In addition, your sleep also has a significant impact on your metabolism.  The two hormones that play a big part of regulating appetite are ghrelin, which tells you to eat more, and leptin, which tells you to eat less.  When you're sleep deprived, your ghrelin increases and your leptin decreases, meaning you're more likely to keep eating when you're sleep deprived, and much of those meals are likely going to be filled with sugary items or fatty, greasy foods to give you an energy boost these are the times when “super-sizing it” doesn't seem like such a bad idea.  This is dually unfortunate as, in addition to the poor nutrients and quantity of food ingested, your body's metabolism runs slower when you're not getting enough sleep.   

So how much sleep should you be getting in order to assure the maximum fitness benefits?  Most physicians and nutritionists agree that 7-8 hours of sleep per night is the ideal amount in order to assure that your body's nocturnal processes have run their course.  Oversleeping won't help, as it can offset your sleep cycles and throw a wrench into your whole system.  Sleep also has some very significant impacts on your mood and mental health whose fitness is just as important as your body's.  A lot of times the mood precipitant from poor sleep is going to affect a lot of your choices during the day: such as making poor diet decisions or in making you feel a lack of motivation to exercise. 

Fitness isn't just a bi-product of the gym; fitness comes from all aspects of your life, and sleep is the time when you're body crystallizes those waking aspects and prepares you for the next day.  In order to get fit, you've got to up the quality of your sleep.

1 comment:

  1. What you eat can greatly affect Better Sleep, even during the early half of the day. Eat breakfast first thing in the morning to Better Sleep at night, and make sure it's a big one. After eating well throughout the day, avoid eating spicy or junk foods at night for Better Sleep, and instead choose something that will help you drift off. And remember: no booze! Not only will it not help you get to Better Sleep, it'll cause you to snore all night, too.