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  • Writer's pictureJosh Stevenson

Is Poor Sleep Ruining Your Workout and Health?

Does sleep affect my physical and mental health? You ask...

You have probably heard that sleep is important for your health, but do you really know why? It may surprise you to know that lack of sleep can have long term effects on both your physical and mental health.

Australian adults get an average of 7 hours and 18 minutes of sleep per night, bordering on the low end of the recommended 7-9 hours by the National Sleep Foundation.

Sleep Time = Recovery Time

While you sleep, your body is using this time to recover and heal itself. Exercise can be a stressful process for the body, taxing your muscles, heart, and blood vessels. Without enough sleep, the body does not have enough time to repair these structures, which can lead to chronic health issues.

Small amounts of muscle damage can continue to build, and something that may have started as a minor niggle can turn into a serious injury.

Ongoing sleep deprivation can also be linked to increased risks of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. Lack of sleep can also negatively impact your immune system, meaning chronic insomnia may cause you to have trouble fighting common infections.

Less Sleep = Increased Hunger

Your hunger is regulated by two hormones, ghrelin and leptin. Leptin makes you feel full, while ghrelin makes you feel hungry. Sleep allows the body to balance these two hormones. A lack of sleep can increase the levels of ghrelin in your body and decrease leptin, making you feel more hungry than if you were well rested. A study performed on 10 healthy men found that even a single night of sleep deprivation can increase feelings of hunger and ghrelin levels in blood plasma.

If you find yourself getting hungry throughout the day, even after you’ve already had a meal, maybe you need to look at the amount of sleep you are getting.

Sleep is Good for Your Brain!

Quality sleep allows your mind to reset for the next day. Being sleep deficient can negatively impact your decision making, problem-solving abilities, and emotional wellbeing. You may find it difficult to pay attention, and it can increase your risk of depression.

Sleep Improves Performance

A study performed on eight young men found that sleep deprivation significantly reduced performance on both submaximal and maximal lifts for both the upper body and lower body. The reduction in performance became more pronounced with successive days of sleep loss. What this means is that without adequate sleep, physical performance can be reduced. If you are consistently sleep-deprived, you are more likely to have reduced performance.

If you’re consistently running on empty and not getting enough sleep, chances are you not only won’t be performing at your peak, but you could also be doing damage to your body. To be both physically and mentally ready for exercise, it is important to get a solid, restful night’s sleep. To ensure you get the best out of your next workout, aim to get between 7 and 9 hours of good quality sleep to allow your body to recover from the stresses of the previous day.


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