With a reported 55% of Canadian women aged 18 to 64 struggling to fall or stay asleep, lack of rest is a factor that cannot be ignored in relation to health. Substandard sleep can contribute to obesity, depression and type 2 diabetes among other health issues, but it can also negatively affect your exercise. So, whether you are working out for fun, for a positive body image or for health reasons, then don’t underestimate the importance of sleep in your quest for the ultimate workout and how in return exercise can benefit your sleep.
Why is sleep important?
Sleep is vital for a variety of health reasons, and while there is little evidence to suggest that a lack of sleep will significantly affect our physical abilities such as maximum anaerobic power or our muscle strength, there is research to confirm that it may impact our perceived exertion levels, meaning that we feel like we’ve done enough when we actually haven’t. It may also reduce our ability to perform maximal exercise. Mentally, a lack of sleep can negatively affect exercise because if you feel tired you are less likely to be motivated to exercise. Sleep deprivation can trigger depression, which may also prevent the desire to exercise.
What can affect quality sleep?
You don’t have to ditch caffeine completely, but it’s important to monitor when and how much you drink as caffeine can be sleep’s enemy. Caffeine laden foods and drinks may also be high in sugar or artificial sugar, which are again not conducive with a satisfying slumber. In addition, don’t forget to stock up on fluids because dehydration can lead to leg cramps and causes dryness in the nasal passages and mouth which can lead to snoring and a potentially disrupted sleep. Don’t forget to invest in a comfy and suitable mattress as this can also impact how well you sleep.
The impact of exercise on sleep
A workout can improve sleep duration and quality as exercise makes us tired and can aid stress reduction leading to a more relaxed sleep. Exercising outdoors is particularly beneficial as it allows the body to absorb natural sunlight and the time of day you exercise will depend on each individual. It’s reported that early morning exercise leads to deeper sleep at night allowing individuals 75% more time in the most beneficial stages of sleep compared to those who exercise later in the day. For some people exercising late at night can disrupt sleep due to the stimulation and the rise in body temperature.
Sleep is essential for our health and although a few bad nights may not ruin your workouts completely, a lack of sleep can affect our mental state and our motivation which will not lead to optimal performance. It is apparent that exercise and sleep go neatly hand and hand as good sleep should lead to a more efficient workout and exercise should result in a longer and deeper sleep. That’s not to say you can never have a late night, but it’s worth considering how many you have before you see the negative effects on your fitness levels.