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We all know what it’s like to wake up feeling refreshed after a great night of sleep. Conversely, we all know what it’s like to wake up after a terrible night of sleep. Our entire day, attitude and mindset can be dictated by the amount of sleep we had the night before.

A healthy amount of sleep is not only important to things like emotions and energy levels, it’s also vital to many important bodily functions like mental alertness, the immune system, metabolism and more. To most of us, these benefits, and others, are obvious. But, what’s not as obvious to many is the impact that sleep has on getting into shape.

Weight Management

For men over 40, weight loss is the most common goal when getting into shape. Unfortunately, all of the efforts to lose weight through going to the gym and eating a healthy diet can be significantly upstaged by poor sleep patterns.

Sleep helps to regulate and balance your hormones. Prolonged sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on these hormones that are vital to your weight loss success. The two hormones that are most impacted by sleep are leptin and ghrelin. These hormones are responsible for making you feel full or hungry. Just think about the times you didn’t sleep well for days and how it made a mess of your diet. Instead of a nice healthy breakfast, you settled for a box of donuts.

Sleep can also mess with your metabolism, which impacts many areas of getting into shape like an increase or decrease of burning off calories. If you start consuming more calories than you burn off, then you will be more likely to gain unwanted weight.

Eating Habits

As mentioned, sleep deprivation can really impact the way you eat. Not only are you less inclined to put the effort into making healthier meals, you may be snacking on foods that are high in sugar, salt and fat. Additionally, those late night cravings will kick in because you are awake and not sleeping. Just think back to the choices you made when up late at night instead of asleep. How many times did you reach for a slice of pizza or some ice cream instead of cooking a lean chicken breast?

Physical Performance

Sleep has a direct and significant impact on our physical performance throughout the day, especially during exercise or other related physical activities. Lack of sleep decreases our energy levels and can also decrease our maximum level of physical exertion. Additionally, sleep deprivation makes us less coordinated which can lead to injuries. Have you ever tried to go for a jog or do some sprinting after a few days of little sleep? It feels like you are running in sand and the gas tank is on empty.

Rest and Recovery

Sleep is imperative for our bodies to recover from exercise and stress. If you are involved in a strength training program, your body needs a healthy amount of sleep so that it can repair the muscles and release growth hormones. Additionally, these growth hormones are also vital to strengthening our bones. There’s evidence that sleep deprivation can lead to bone issues like osteoporosis.

Stress Management

Stress literally destroys all areas of our lives. It also reduces the amount of sleep we get each night. In fact, stress is one of the leading causes for sleep deprivation. Conversely, a good night sleep can help to reduce stress levels. This relationship of sleep and stress is a major factor when trying to get into shape.

Increased levels of stress can lead to health problems like high blood pressure. Additionally, a lack of sleep due to stress can affect cholesterol levels which play a significant role in heart disease.

When we’re trying to get in shape to live healthier lifestyles, stress and sleep deprivation can thwart those efforts by increasing the risks for serious health conditions.

Motivation

Sleep deprivation can make you feel lazy and unmotivated, which translates into a lack of desire to go to the gym or eat healthily. It can also make us irritated and impatient. These negative emotions and mindsets can really impede the progress of getting into shape.

How Much Sleep Should You Get?

For most men over 40, the National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. This amount of sleep is a general recommendation but can be adjusted for certain factors like level of physical activity during the day and various health conditions.

What’s important is that you realize how vital sleep is to get in shape and your overall health. It’s time that you take a serious look at your sleep habits and really start focusing on how to get better sleep each night.

Jamie Sene

Resources

Harvard Medical School: Benefits of Sleep http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/benefits-of-sleep

Harvard. (n.d.). Benefits of Sleep | Healthy Sleep.

BetterBones.com: New research on sleep and boneshttp://www.betterbones.com/bone-health-basics/new-research-on-sleep-and-bones/

Better Bones. (2016, January 8). New research on sleep and bones – Better Bones. Retrieved from http://www.betterbones.com/bone-health-basics/new-research-on-sleep-and-bones/

American Psychological Association: Stress and Sleep http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2013/sleep.aspx

National Sleep Foundation: How much sleep do we really need? https://sleepfoundation.org/excessivesleepiness/content/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need-0

LiveStrong.com: Exercise and Sleep http://www.livestrong.com/article/179693-mattresses-back-pain/