Fitness and sleep are two things that go hand-in-hand. What you do while in the gym is important to your fitness. Equally important is what you do outside the gym. This includes what you eat and drink. It also includes getting enough sleep. What you do in the gym doesn't even matter if you aren't getting enough rest.
Benefits of Exercise
Doing exercise serves many purposes. You build lean muscle mass and improve your cardiovascular health. You also build endurance and much more. Attaining these goals is only possible if you sleep enough each night, preferably eight hours. You undermine your health and eliminate the benefits of exercise when you don't get a good night's rest.
Many things physically happen to you when you sleep. Your body recovers from the day and conserves energy. It also builds and repairs the muscles you used during the day. Your pituitary gland mainly produces HGH during your sleep, which is a growth hormone. This hormone causes you to grow when you're young, hence the name, and helps adults build and repair lean muscles.
Many people in the United States don't get enough sleep. Over 30% of Americans don't get enough sleep, which for adults is seven to eight hours a night. This translates to nearly 110 million people in the country sabotaging their fitness goals, in addition to other health issues associated with insufficient sleep. There are many issues that sleep-deprivation causes and how to get better sleep.
Fitness and Sleep Support Each Other
While sleep supports fitness, fitness also supports sleep. Doing exercise helps you sleep better. Examples of this include hiking for the day and easily falling into a great night of sleep. Another example is completing an exhausting boot camp class.
One study had participants who reported they slept less than six and a half hours a night. They did moderate-intensity exercises such as walking, running, or riding a stationary bike. They did these exercises four times a week for a month and a half. The participants reported that they were sleeping an additional 75 minutes on average per night. This was more than any sleep-inducing drug delivered.
Proper Sleep Supports Your Natural Rhythm
Another way fitness and sleep are connected is your circadian rhythm. Doing exercise helps your body understand your schedule. Morning exercise, in particular, gets your body ready to sleep better. Exercise later in the day can help as well, though. You just have to choose the right types of workouts.
Another study showed that exercising just before bed was very beneficial. It resulted in people sleeping longer and deeper. They also woke up fewer times in the night. Other studies have shown that engaging in some moderate-intensity exercise just before bedtime helps soothe people who experience pre-sleep anxiety.
Other studies, however, show that if you're going to exercise just before bedtime, you should stick to low-intensity workouts. This includes things like barre, yoga, and pilates. One study indicated that engaging in high-intensity exercise late in the day resulted in it getting harder to fall asleep. This was likely due to an increased heart rate.