The nations largest sleep census commissioned by bedding company, Sealy, showed that 1 in 3 Australians lost over 700 hours of sleep a year, which equates to getting just six hours or less of sleep per night. These findings show that Australians need to make a shift and prioritise a quality night’s sleep in their day-to-day lives. While you yawn, consider these four ways sleep benefits your fitness goals and exercise performance.
It’s well documented that quality sleep plays a major role in athletic performance. Research has shown that sleep deprivation can decrease the production of glycogen (a storage form of carbohydrate) used during exercise. Run low on this important source of workout fuel and you’ll most likely experience fatigue, poor focus and a slower recovery post exercise – all of which counteracts what you’re trying to do with your fitness.
Sleep is the prime time for the body to undergo protein synthesis – a time when growth hormone hits its peak, which works to stimulate muscle growth and repair. So getting optimal shut eye after a tough workout might make for stronger muscles and better endurance.
Ever noticed how staying up late almost always involves a hankering for something sweet or a bag of chips? For starters, the longer you stay awake, the more time you have to eat. However favouring Netflix over snoozing also puts your body at a chemical disadvantage which appears to increase the desire for high-fat and high-calorie foods. Why? During sleep the body balances two hunger hormones: ghrelin (which stimulates hunger) and leptin (which signals to the brain that you are satisfied), so the consequences of too many late nights will mess with your appetite and you’re left fighting an uphill battle where you continue to stuff your face and not feel satisfied, and the end result will likely show up around your waistline.
Unfortunately, one of the effects of sleep deprivation is impaired judgement or reduced reflexes, similar to drunks behind the wheel. Whilst we may not notice, or may even subconsciously deny, the extent of our reduced alertness and functionality can be dangerous when you’re throwing around heavy weights. Shorter sleep periods don’t provide the body with sufficient time to regenerate cells and repair making harder to withstand the stress from workouts, increasing the risk of muscle strains or sprains.