Why is sleep so important?

23rd April * 2 min read

Scientists may not know the exact reason why we sleep, but we do know of its profound benefits for our mental health and our wellbeing. However, it’s an aspect of a healthy lifestyle that is commonly overlooked within the fitness community. Although many view sleep as just an everyday occurrence, it significantly gives your brain the chance to process everything that you’ve learnt or experienced that day, as well as the chance to prepare for your goals and tasks for tomorrow. Sleep helps you to stay focused and make decisions, gives our bodies the time to repair itself, and is key in balancing your hormones. Above all, maintaining a healthy sleeping pattern is crucial and should be prioritised, no matter your fitness goals.

Sleep is also an important aspect of building muscle and losing weight that is highly underrated among many. It may be the reason that others may seem to be progressing in their fitness goals much faster than you are, or why you aren’t seeing the results you were hoping for despite putting in all the hours and hard work. This is because sleep has a powerful effect on muscle recovery, growth and retention and is something we discuss in depth during our Personal Trainer qualifications. Sleep can also greatly support the reduction of body fat due to its impact of regulating your metabolism, decreasing the appetite raising hormone ghrelin, and increasing the hormone leptin which allows you to feel full. On top of this, getting adequate sleep for your body each night can positively impact your workout performance and help you to speedily achieve your desired body composition.

While there is no evidence to claim that sleep deprivation affects your peak fitness capabilities such as during heavy weights or high intensity exercise, it is proven that your body will begin to feel fatigued at a quicker rate. If you decide to go to the gym while sleep deprived, the chances are that your body will not be able to do half as much work as it normally would be able to do. This is thought to be caused by the body’s inability to metabolise glucose while sleep deprived, meaning your energy levels will be lowered. Sleep deprivation can also result in the loss of lean tissue and can mean that calories may be being burnt from your stored energy, rather than body fat.

In the busy, competitive working world that seems to resent the idea of adequate sleep, it can be easy to fall into bad sleeping habits, such as not sleeping for enough hours or going to bed too late. While experts recommend 8 hours or more, many people do not achieve this. The first step to tackling this is to develop a sleep routine and to remain consistent with a determined approach. Try to switch off devices at least one hour before bed, or practice mindfulness techniques to drift off quicker. The combination of a balanced diet, a consistent exercise plan, and an adequate amount of sleep is a sure-fire way to unlocking the rewards of your hard work.

For more sleep related advice and guidance, please read our other blog from last year here: The Important of Sleep for Health!

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