Sleep: The Surprising Facts About Your Workouts and Sleep


Pursuing health and wellness often means learning that fitness is more than just working out and “eating clean”.

Finding a method of exercise you enjoy and disciplining yourself to fuel your body with healthy food is the foundation, but everyone who has made fitness a part of their life can attest that it usually grows into more and more of a lifestyle, as your understanding about the components of fitness grows.

For instance, eating “right” morphs from just watching what you eat, or limiting processed or unhealthy foods, to hitting certain nutrition markers, depending on what your goals are, and your individual body and what works for you. You learn about calories, then macros, then supplements...there’s an entire world of nutrition and how it enhances fitness.

“Working Out” goes from just setting aside a few hours a week to get in movement, to planning workouts, learning about certain muscle groups, and maybe setting and achieving particular goals.

You may realize how importance hydration is (see our post about water intake), or learn that rest days are just as important for muscle development as the actual workout you use.

Another factor to consider, when looking at your overall fitness and the things that affect it, is your sleep.

The effect of exercise on quality of sleep has been studied (see our post about when you should workout), but there is also evidence that lack of sleep can curtail weight loss efforts...possibly because it disrupts hormone levels that regulate energy expenditure and hunger/satiety levels.

If you want the most from your workouts--and honestly, life in general--paying attention to your sleep is a good investment.

A few suggestions for improving sleep, from the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School…

Prepare the Environment. Make your sleep area dark and quiet. Seems like a no-brainer, but eliminating what seems like a small disruption can sometimes make a big difference.

Maintain Your Wake Up Time. Surprisingly, keeping a consistent wake up time is often a sleep trouble cure.

Keep It Light After Dark. In the four or five hours before bed, slow down use of stimulants and keep meals small. Letting your brain and digestive system wind down can help you relax.

Get Help. There are certain problems beyond the scope of blackout curtains and not drinking tea after 8 p.m.; if your sleep troubles are significant and unchanged by simple interventions, consider talking to your doctor--underlying issues can often be fixed, and the benefit to your health and wellness might be significant.