fitness · health · training

Zzzz, Sleep and Fitness

Sleep, it’s the one part of healthy living that’s zero struggle for me. But from what I read that it’s a big problem for lots of people.

If you’re keen to get fit in the new year, be sure to budget time for sleep. You can’t train without enough sleep. Sleep is necessary. Indeed, if you’re the sort to make resolutions it may be more productive to focus your efforts on sleep than just about anything else.

Sleep helps us metabolize carbohydrates, maintain leptin, growth hormones, proper blood pressure and insulin resistance, and helps us keep a positive attitude through decreased anxiety and perceived stress.

Read more here from Lifehacker (of course):

Sleep Your Way to Better Fitness

Most people fall off the exercise wagon after about three weeks. Their motivation for it crashes when they do not maintain or change to healthy sleeping habits. Without enough sleep, it becomes difficult to get motivated to go out and get proper exercise. In fact, the main excuse for not getting enough exercise is either being “too tired” or having “no time.” Often, it is the combination of both, making it extremely difficult to maintain a balanced approach as taught by these Zen masters.

The “no time” bit is basically a priority issue. If someone feels tired and beat up the day after a workout, there is a tendency to have the “no time” issue become an impediment to fitness. This is because they can feel less productive, more lethargic and so on while being stiff and sore. The tendency is to feel the need to work longer to make up the time spent for the exercise. If someone goes into the exercise well rested, that day and the next day goes by better with the benefits of the natural “endorphin high” and a generally positive sense of health and well being, the “no time” issue vanishes.

It generally takes about 7 hours of quality sleep for most people. Too few achieve that with today’s harried lifestyles. People often get the sequence backwards, working on sleep after getting going on a new exercise routine. Or worse, getting no sleep or less sleep than before. This is often because the exercise is simply added to the existing busy schedule.

Making an exercise program stick is a problem for many people. One way to do it is to combine the tracking of both sleep and exercise as part of the fitness program. For example, block out 8 hours of the 24 hour day for “fitness” and mark down the actual sleep time and the time in the gym or while out jogging, hiking or playing tennis. Measure the sleep hours and quality as carefully as tracking the weights used or mileage covered. Make this part of your reporting requirement if you have a personal trainer involved in the process

Not persuaded yet? Read Your New Workout Success Secret: Sleep!

“Clocking two extra hours a night for six weeks helped basketball players up their shooting percentage by 9 percent, the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory reports. “No time!” you say? Even 30 minutes more each night may improve skills during activities that take focus and determination, scientists say. That translates to better performance, in a boot camp class or at the office.”