Quick question: Which areas should you be focusing on the most to lose weight and get fitter?
You most likely said exercise and diet. And you are right.
However, there is another factor that we often overlook when staying healthy. Quality sleep is another crticially important aspect to focus on when it comes to staying fit.
Scientists have tried to understand why we sleep for centuries. Although there are many theories, we don’t know why we sleep for so long every night.
Researchers have discovered that sleep strongly correlates with various health outcomes, including mental and physical. In addition, researchers have found that sleep can improve memory, increase productivity, and make us happier.
They also found a strong connection between fitness and sleep.
It is pretty easy to see the cause and effect. High-quality sleep leads to better health and weight loss. On the other hand, bad sleep habits can increase obesity risk and make it more challenging to lose weight.
Of course, the finer details can be a little more complex than that. This is what I’m going to talk about in this post.
In particular, we will explain five ways sleep affects your weight loss and fitness goals. They are all supported by science.
You’ll understand why quality sleep should be ranked as high as diet and exercise if you are on a weight-loss or fitness journey.
1. Your Appetite Is Affected By Sleep
Two key hormones control your appetite. These hormones are the “hunger hormones.”
One of these is Ghrelin. This hormone sends signals to your brain that you are hungry, prompting you to eat.
Another is Leptin. This hormone reduces your appetite. It tells the brain there is enough food, which causes you to stop eating. Unfortunately, many people ignore this hormone, leading to excessive eating.
These hormones normally work if you sleep for at least 7-8 hours. The hormone ghrelin levels rise even when you’re full, but this is not true if you don’t get enough sleep.
This will make you feel fuller and allow you to eat more.
Don’t be surprised if you feel hungry after a long night.
2. How Sleep Can Impact Your Energy Levels
Although we don’t know the exact reason for our sleeplessness, we know it is necessary to keep our bodies active.
The body can recharge its energy reserves before going to sleep.
You won’t get the energy you need to go to the track or the gym the next day if you don’t get enough sleep. Likewise, you’ll be less effective at your workout if you try to run or lift weights.
You will notice a decrease in your running speed, a slower pace for lifting weights, and a greater amount of fatigue.
It can even last for days. If you get only 4 hours of sleep on Sunday night, you’ll be feeling off kilter the rest of the week even if you make an effort to sleep well the other days.
3. Sleep Affects Your Metabolism
If you look at the sleep duration of different animals, you’ll notice an interesting pattern.
Large animals tend to sleep less (e.g., an elephant sleeps for 2 hours), while smaller animals sleep 18 hours per day.
Scientists believe this is due to metabolism. Scientists believe this is because small animals have a higher metabolism rate and require more sleep.
Altering your sleep duration from the normal amount can drastically affect your metabolism. In one study, participants who slept only 4 hours per night for six consecutive nights saw their metabolism rate drop by 40%.
A lower metabolism rate means more fat is stored in the body rather than being burned for energy. This will make it harder to lose weight and become fit.
4. Sleep Affects Your Decision-Making Capacity
Bad sleep quality can affect your decision-making process and make you more likely to make poor food choices.
Numerous studies have shown that those who sleep less often eat more junk food, even though healthy food is readily available.
You can see why you feel so tempted to have a high-sugar breakfast after a bad night’s sleep.
5. Exercise and Sleep are Interlinked
Exercise and sleep are in a reciprocal relationship.
Your workouts will be more productive if you are well-rested. In addition, you will sleep better if you exercise.
It is crucial to exercise, even if you don’t feel like it. Even just a few minutes of intense exercise can make you sleep better, which will help with weight loss and fitness.
Improve Your Sleep Quality
The first step is to identify why you aren’t sleeping well and address it to improve your sleep quality.
If you are using electronic gadgets at night, shut them down an hour or two before sleep and keep them away from the bedroom.
Relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation are helpful if you feel anxious or stressed. To learn these skills, you can check into one week-long yoga retreat.
You should also ensure that you have a comfortable sleeping environment. Your bedroom temperature should be slightly below average (ideally, less than 70 degrees F), and your bedroom should have no disturbing sounds.
You should feel comfortable and cool on your mattress.
You may be unable to sleep well because of your mattress. Use the mattress comparisons and buying guides available online to help you find the right mattress for you.
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