Why Sleep Should be an Important Part of Your Fitness Routine

Woman practicing yoga with her puppy.

by Sleep First 5 min read

As the months get warmer, many people’s minds turn to summertime fitness. When you think about the factors that affect your fitness, the things that likely come to mind are your genetics, your diet and your exercise routine. Those are all important, but there’s one more that should make your list: sleep! 

Did you know that your sleep plays a huge role in your weight, fitness and overall health? If you're trying to boost your fitness, try paying just as much attention to how you’re sleeping as you do to what you’re eating and how you’re exercising. 

In fact, sleep is so important for an effective fitness routine that even if you're eating a perfect diet and exercising every day, you might not see much progress at all without enough good quality sleep. So how does it all work, you might ask? Read on!

Woman practicing yoga in front of a laptop.

Sleep plays a big role in the function of your metabolism

One of the biggest links between sleep and fitness is in how sleep affects your metabolism. Essentially, our metabolism controls the chemical reactions that happen inside our body that keep us alive. Most relevant for your fitness goals, it governs how our food is broken down and turned into energy, as well as how fat is stored or burned.

Sleep deprivation causes our metabolism to slow down, which leads us to store more fat than we burn. Lack of good sleep also causes our body to secrete too much of the stress hormone Cortisol, which signals to your body to store your food as fat. Additionally, Insulin (the blood sugar hormone) is also impacted, leading to higher blood sugar levels and therefore more fat storage. 

Sleep impacts your appetite

Sleep deprivation often leads to overeating, as our body craves more food to make up for our lack of energy. There is also the simple fact that the longer you spend awake, the more time there is to fill with eating. Especially if you're staying up late and eating calorie-dense midnight treats like ice cream and chips, skipping out on sleep is likely to lead to overeating. 

Brain-chemistry also comes into play here. When we are sleep deprived, our hormonal makeup changes: we secrete more ghrelin (the hormone that signals hunger) and less leptin (the hormone that tells us when we're full). Additionally, excess Cortisol causes us to crave high-sugar, high-fat foods. This doesn’t exactly bode well for your fitness goals

Sleep impacts your energy and your exercise ability

Not only does sleep deprivation lead you to consume more calories, it can also prevent you from burning them off! Simply put, when you don't get enough sleep, you're tired. And when you're tired, you don’t have much extra energy to spend at the gym. And even if you do manage to get in your workout? You need good quality sleep to rest and repair your muscles. Otherwise, you’ll be left sore and tired.

Man exercising in his living room.

Sleep Regulates Your Impulse Control (...and lack of sleep throws it off).

We already talked about how sleep deprivation causes you to overeat, but did you know it can also cause you to eat the wrong things? Lack of sleep impairs our brain's impulse-control and smart decision making centers. Even with the best intentions, this often leads you to fall into temptation. Those cupcakes in the office? Sure, I’ll have one. Pepperoni pizza instead of the salad you planned to have? Yum! The leftover birthday cake in the fridge? Don’t mind if I do. Getting enough sleep will help you stick to your plan and see success in your efforts. 

Clearly, sleep should be a vital part of your fitness routine! The science shows that getting enough consistent good quality sleep is essential for fitness. Without it, our weight-loss and muscle building efforts will suffer, and we could even end up going in the opposite direction of body goals.

If you’re finding that you’re not getting the best sleep you can, despite trying your best, it might be time to reevaluate your mattress. If you find that you do need a new mattress, visit one of Sleep First’s locations, where our sleep experts will be glad to talk through your needs and guide you towards the best mattress for you! 

You can book a private, contact-free shopping appointment here. Questions? Please feel free to reach out to our team who can guide you in the right direction by calling or chatting with us by clicking the messenger icon at the bottom of the screen!

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