Did you know that when we are tired, we often reach for unhealthy, fatty food? Numerous sleep researchers, including those at the New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center, have recently found evidence of this. People who are sleep deprived consume around 300 calories more per day. Why? It seems that their metabolism, cell formation and digestion are slower. And not (as you might be thinking) because they raid the refrigerator in the middle of the night.
A 5K run, a workout with your own body weight or a yoga session not only help you stay in shape, but they improve the quality of your sleep, too. In today’s blog post, you can learn why exercise helps, which hormones play a role in muscle recovery, and tips and tricks for getting a good night’s sleep.
“Move more to lose more”
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine has found that regular exercise significantly improves the quality of your sleep and can help you sleep through the night. The only thing is that it takes about 4 months for your body to get used to the increased activity. So don’t get discouraged if your new training routine doesn’t improve the quality of your sleep right away. It may well be that you need longer to fall asleep if you do an intense workout right before going to bed.
Physical exercise stimulates the autonomic nervous system and until it settles down, you can’t sleep. So your body needs time to adjust to the new training stimuli.
DTR tip: Finish your running or bodyweight training at least two hours before going to bed to ensure a restful night’s sleep.
Do you like working out in the morning? If you plan on exercising before work, you should go to bed earlier than usual to make sure you get enough sleep.
Better sleep, better performance
During the day, we want to do a good job at work and still have the strength to complete a challenging running workout. If you don’t sleep well at night, you have less energy during the day and thus less desire to exercise. Therefore, a good night’s sleep is essential for your training routine! This has recently been confirmed by a study on student-athletes conducted by the renowned Stanford University: Students who got more sleep (in this case, 10 full hours!), performed better than those who placed less emphasis on their sleep. Incidentally, it doesn’t always have to be 10 hours of sleep a night. 7 to 9 hours is the optimal amount.
Your muscles grow while you sleep
What you require after a long run or an intense bodyweight training session is recovery: Your muscles need to rest now – and this is just as important for your desired training effect as the actual workout itself. Incidentally, the male hormone testosterone plays a major role in building muscles: The harder you work out and push your muscles, the more testosterone your body releases. Testosterone is needed to help your muscles recover after your workout – without it, your damaged muscles cannot build new tissue and you won’t get stronger. This is where sleep comes in again: The longer and better you sleep, the more time your body has for recovery and growth. So you see, your muscles do grow in your sleep.
10,000 steps for a good night’s sleep
The clock keeps ticking. Our thoughts keep racing. We lie in bed for hours and we simply can’t sleep… It’s really frustrating! There are times when deep sleep is more necessary than ever. For example, when you are supposed to run a half marathon the next day or you have an important meeting at work.
When you are stressed, your body releases the stress hormone cortisol, which interferes with your sleep. This means that on the next day, besides feeling even more tired, you will have a huge appetite thanks to a lack of leptin, the appetite-suppressing hormone. Low levels of leptin result in increased hunger, which of course leads to the 300 calories we mentioned at the beginning of the article.
This also lowers the quality of your sleep – particularly because the fat cells that collect in your neck lead to annoying snoring. And you certainly don’t want to disturb your loved one’s sleep, do you? The fact is that sleep and weight are connected.
That’s why you need to get plenty of exercise – you should shoot for 10,000 steps a day. Exercising outdoors can help you cope with stress and makes you really tired in the evening so you sleep better.
DTR tips for falling asleep easier
If you regularly have trouble sleeping, you need to do something about it. Besides getting in plenty of steps and exercise, you can try to improve your sleep by establishing a bedtime ritual, eating a light dinner, and limiting your alcohol intake.
4 tips for you on falling asleep:
- Dim the lights for a while before going to bed. This acts like the sun setting in your apartment, which makes you sleepy faster.
- Make your bedroom as dark as possible. Light interrupts your body’s production of melatonin, which disrupts your metabolic processes.
- Develop a ritual like brushing your teeth, showering or reading before lying down to sleep. Your body will get used to it and will know that it’s time to sleep now.
- Sleep in a cool room. The temperature in your bedroom should be between 16° C (60.8° F) and 18° C (64.4 ° F).
So as you can see, sleep is incredibly important for a healthy and fit lifestyle.
Please take care of yourself – DTR wish you all a good night’s sleep!