Exercise and Sleep


Do you ever exercise, because you can't sleep? Or do you decide not to exercise, because you are afraid it will leave you sleepless? Or better yet, do you decide not to get up early to exercise, because you had a terrible night's sleep and need your extra zzzz's?

According to an article from the Strength and Conditioning Journal (Bird, Stephen P.; Volume 35, Issue 5), “reductions in cognitive and motor performance, reaction times, and mood state/emotional stability are often observed in sleep-deprived [individuals], although a range of metabolic and immunologic processes are also reported to be negatively affected.” Wow, that's great information, but what does it mean for you and me?

Well, if you’ve ever experienced brain fog, "trouble processing information, sluggish movement, etc. after a poor night’s sleep", you know exactly what the article is discussing.  Getting the recommended hours of sleep for your age, is the sleep time your body needs to regenerate and recover from the previous day’s activities.  Without that regeneration and recovery time, we simply may not be able to do all the activities we want to do when we wake up from a bad night's sleep.

Let's relate this to fitness. As if you needed more reasons to get plenty of sleep, the article discusses the fact that most people perform better in their workouts when they have had high quality sleep the night before.  This is GREAT news for all of you that are trying to optimize your current workouts, to get the most out of them. It is also good to know for all the beginners just starting new fitness habits. You'll have a better chance at achieving your fitness goals if you are well rested. The nice thing about the relationship between sleep and exercise is that it has a snowball effect: regular medium-high intensity exercise leads to better sleep, which leads to better training, and so on.  So test the research out, try the same fitness routine after having a great night's sleep and after having a poor night's sleep. Compare the experience to determine the difference for you, personally. 

Shayla provided some helpful sleep tips in her article a few weeks ago. I'll focus on sleep and exercise travel tips:

·         Adjust your watch to destination time zone as soon as you board.

·         Create a comfortable environment using pillows.

·         Eyeshades and earplugs should be used.

·         Avoid coffee, alcohol, and nicotine.

·         In-flight meals should be eaten on the destination schedule.

·         Maintain proper hydration.

On flights over 2 hours in length, exercise your feet and legs with slight movements while seated, or walk around the plane every two hours, for a few minutes each time. Pick a hotel with walking paths nearby or a workout room or swimming pool you can work out in. Make time to move on trips and select healthy options for your meals too. You are all set for your next trip! Have fun, enjoy your workout and get a great night's rest!