You may know that a regular exercise routine can help us get the rest we need at night, but did you also know that good quality sleep can help you perform your best during your workouts?
Whether you’re a high-performance athlete or just wanting to improve your overall fitness, your daily routine can make a big difference to your health. From eating a healthy diet to managing stress, everyday changes mean that we can get much more out of our exercise habits.
Sleep is a major factor in keeping healthy, and this includes helping to keep fit. Put simply, even if you’re working out regularly, you won’t be getting the full benefit if you suffer from poor sleep.
Why is sleep important for our bodies?
When we sleep, we’re giving our bodies time to recover, repair and recharge. The muscles worked during exercise are given the opportunity to build up during sleep, and being well-rested also means you’re less likely to experience aches and pains after a heavy exercise session.
During sleep, the human body produces growth hormones to help build lean muscle or repair any muscle tears. This is essential for recovery, and is particularly important for those who enjoy high-intensity workouts such as weightlifting, interval-training or other high-impact exercises.
However, with around 30% of us not getting enough sleep, you may be limiting your athletic performance without even realising it.
Tiredness can also make us feel less motivated to exercise – we’ve all had those mornings where we intended to head to the gym for an early start, but a poor night’s sleep left us feeling lethargic instead. Getting enough sleep can also boost your concentration, focus and mood, meaning you feel better prepared for your workout and determined to meet your fitness goals.
Improve your sleep, improve your fitness
Experts recommend that adults aim for around eight hours of sleep a night, with a peaceful night’s rest giving you the boost you need to commit to your exercise routine. But what steps can you take to make sure you get the right amount of sleep, to help you reach your fitness goals?
Luckily for fitness fans, regular exercise has been shown to be highly beneficial in promoting good sleep; one study saw a group of patients with sleep problems to take regular aerobic exercise, and found that they reported getting an extra 75 minutes of sleep per night.
Exercise releases a brain chemical called adenosine, which helps us to feel tired. That’s why you may find that you sleep like a log after a particularly tough gym session or bootcamp!
If you tend to exercise close to bedtime, try switching to low-intensity workouts like yoga, especially if they incorporate breathing and relaxation techniques. Signalling to your body that it’s time to wind down and relax can help in getting you in the right mindset for a good night’s sleep.