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Some of us have a difficult time summoning motivation to exercise on the best of days, but add on a few too many sleepless nights and we are looking for any excuse to skip the gym. Lack of sleep can derail our exercise goals.
We all know sleep is important. The typical adult needs between 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night, but this stretch of time can often seem elusive. In fact, a lot of us are running at a sleep deficit. According to the Center For Disease Control, thirty percent of Americans reported receiving less than six hours per night in response to a National Health Interview Survey.
So, how are those lost hours of sleep affecting our bodies?
The Effects of Lack Of Sleep
1. Decreased Energy and Motivation
Lack of sleep makes you feel fuzzy. It impairs your ability to concentrate and think clearly. This can significantly affect your ability to prioritize your time and envision your fitness goals. Again, this is where mindfulness comes into play. If you are not well rested, it will be harder to think through the ramifications of a missed workout, or two, or three…
2. Slower Metabolism
Lack of sleep disrupts the chemical processes in our system.
The two hormones that are key in this process are ghrelin and leptin. “Ghrelin is the ‘go’ hormone that tells you when to eat, and when you are sleep-deprived, you have more ghrelin,” Breus says. “Leptin is the hormone that tells you to stop eating, and when you are sleep deprived, you have less leptin.”
More ghrelin plus less leptin equals weight gain.
“You are eating more, plus your metabolism is slower when you are sleep-deprived,” Breus says.
In essence, this chemical disruption actually sets your body up to crave more food, which is the exact opposite of what you want to achieve. That means you could end up having to work out twice as hard to achieve the same results you would have if you were better rested.
3. Less Time For Your Body To Repair Itself
Your body uses your nightly sleep time to repair itself. This is the time your body secrets growth hormones to repair muscles and bones that were taxed during your previous exercise sessions.
Remember, that muscle growth is actually a controlled injury. Each time you exercise a particular muscle group, small tears are formed in the muscle fiber. After exercise, the body repairs itself by creating new, stronger fibers to support the torn area.
Without proper sleep, your muscles do not have the time to strengthen and repair as they should.
Consequently, you may feel weaker when you attempt to use those muscles again because they did not have adequate time to heal.
How To Get More Sleep
The bottom line is this…you have to prioritize your fitness goals and then develop action steps to meet those goals. If fitness is a priority for you, you will have to adjust your activities and your sleep schedule to meet that goal.
Determine when you need to go to bed to achieve the optimal amount of sleep. Keep in mind that every person has different sleep requirements. Then, make a conscious decision to stop all work, computer, or television viewing thirty minutes before that time. This helps to prepare your mind and body for rest. Doing this will help set you on the right track.