Sleep is such a complicated process and affects us on so many levels that understanding how it impacts our fitness is a huge challenge.
For the longest time, we’ve known that getting eight hours of sleep is incredibly beneficial for our fitness efforts.
The question is, why is that? More importantly, would sleeping less result in worse results?
Today, we’ll go over some of the most notable ways in which good sleep benefits our fitness efforts.
It’s Vital for Muscle Gain And Fat Loss
You’ve probably heard that sleep is vital for muscle gain, and that’s entirely true. While sleeping, the body is in repair mode, and processes like muscle protein synthesis are elevated. Growth hormone production is also higher, which further aids with recovery and growth.
Besides good nutrition, getting enough sleep is among the most productive things we can do to recover well between workouts and grow optimally.
On a similar note, adequate sleep appears to be vital for optimal fat loss. Some research shows that with every other condition staying the same (diet, training, etc.), sleeping a couple of hours less each night results in significantly more muscle loss. Specifically, subjects in one study lost muscle and fat at a 50/50 ratio when they slept for seven or more hours. The same people lost muscle and fat at an 80/20 ratio when they slept slightly over five hours.
But, the visual pursuits aside, let’s take a look at some other notable ways in which getting more sleep benefits fitness.
It Profoundly Affects Our Energy Levels, Motivation, And Mood
We’ve all experienced the adverse effects of sleep deprivation:
- Low energy
- Lack of motivation
- A scattered mind
- Low mood
While these things might not seem as important for your fitness efforts and results, they are. For example, having low energy due to sleep deprivation can worsen your workout’s quality and prevent you from causing an adequate growth stimulus.
The lack of motivation and low mood due to sleep deprivation can make you inconsistent with your training sessions. As we all know, not training consistently and missing workouts will significantly slow down your progress.
It Affects Our Choices And Self-Control
Though many people don’t think about it, the quality of our sleep can profoundly impact our choice-making and self-control.
Specifically, sleep deprivation appears to make us more impulsive, which can lead to poor decisions. For example, if you haven’t gotten enough sleep and are prone to rash decisions, you might decide to eat more unhealthy foods.
Sleep deprivation also leads to the rise of the ghrelin hormone, increasing our cravings and making us more likely to go for highly-processed foods full of fats, sugars, and sodium.
This also ties in with the self-control element of getting enough sleep. When you put together increased impulsivity with decreased self-control, you get the perfect recipe for fitness disaster.
Our training and nutrition significantly impact our fitness outcomes. To achieve great results and make the entire process much easier, we also need to get enough sleep every night.
Without it, we severely limit our ability to change our behaviors and achieve our desired outcomes.According to most guidelines, we should aim for at least seven hours of sleep per night; up to eight hours will probably be better for most people.