When it comes to exercise, you want to get the most out of your workouts. But much like a car running on empty, a lack of sleep and working out just don’t go together.
As well as getting a good night’s rest, our bodies need fuel in the form of healthy food and drink, too. In order to get the most out of your workouts, you’re gonna need sleep.
Exercise and sleep deprivation just isn’t a good combo, but how much does sleep really affect your workouts?
Let’s take a closer look.
Sleep and fitness
Many of us often feel somewhat tired. We spend our day at a desk, yawning and waiting for 5pm, finding the energy to hit the gym on the way home. However, there’s a huge difference between the usual yawn and working out when sleep deprived.
When it comes to exercise performance, the energy you’ve found to get through your day is most certainly not enough to exercise with.
We need sleep to restore our body’s energy supply, and when you’re hitting the gym hard you may need even more shuteye to perform at your best. Since sleep allows our bodies to recover, repair and grow muscle, without sleep your workout will fall flat.
Sleep does more than helping you wake up without dark circles under your eyes, since it plays a crucial role in your immune and endocrine systems, too. Endocrine is responsible for distributing key performance hormones around your body – including testosterone.
So when you’re working out when sleep deprived, not only will you not accomplish much, but it can mess with your mindset and your T levels.
When your testosterone levels are low as a result of sleep loss, increasing strength can be a challenge.
Exercise and sleep deprivation
According to studies, when examining running endurance and sleep loss, runners covered nearly 3% less distance on no sleep than when well-rested.
While another study revealed that working out with little sleep can limit maximal muscle strength during resistance training. Put simply, not getting enough sleep and working out just isn’t going to equal your best performance.
Working out when sleep deprived will not only make your exercise regime feel tough as hell, but cause havoc with your motivation to exercise in the first place. During further research, studies found that participants were far less likely to get back in the gym after a poor night’s sleep.
While you may feel as though you’re exercising at the same endurance level, working out with little sleep will naturally feel harder – meaning you’ll fatigue faster.
But what happens when you’re working out with little sleep and not really getting anywhere?
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Sleep and fitness: Recovery
Just like food, sleep is crucial for survival. Plenty of rest gives your body rest and allows your mind and body to recharge.
This means that sleep and working out go hand-in-hand. Whether you’re running kilometres on the treadmill or lifting heavy weights, your body needs the chance to repair and recover from intense exercise.
When you start working out when sleep deprived, not only does your body have no energy conserved to complete your workout, but your efforts could be wasted in building muscle.
In our younger years, high quality sleep is needed to allow the production of growth hormones. While we may not be growing during adulthood, this hormone is just as important for helping us build lean muscle and repair after a hard workout.
So if you’re skipping sleep and working out, you could be depriving your body of the time it needs to repair and build muscle.
Sleep and working out: You need both
While we’ve stressed the benefits of quality sleep and working out, if you do struggle to get some shuteye – exercise can definitely help.
If you’ve never experienced that feeling of total exhaustion after a long, intense hike or a hot and sweaty bootcamp class, you’re missing out! But don’t just take my word for it.
Studies have shown that participants who reported getting less than 6.5 hours of sleep a night achieved an extra 75 minutes each night after moderate-intensity exercise.
However, your exercise schedule is just as important. Try to exercise earlier in the day to avoid getting yourself too pumped before bed! When you get plenty of sleep and work out in the morning, your body maintains a steady circadian rhythm (your internal clock), priming your body to sleep later that night.
Working out is definitely going to help you hit the hay at night, since physical activity creates more adenosine in the brain – making us feel sleepy.
Fun fact, caffeine works to block this chemical, creating the opposite effect of feeling tired – aka, alert.
Getting better sleep and working out
If you’re wondering whether better sleep will support your workouts, the answer is a big fat yes. The better rested you are, the better your mind and body will function – including exercise.
Feeling fresh and ready to go will not only motivate you to exercise in the first place, but it’ll also improve your performance in the gym.
According to studies, high quality rest has been proven to help motivate us to work out and stick to our fitness goals.
The more rest we get, the more motivated we feel to push ourselves harder in the gym. Getting plenty of sleep and working out is very much a team and need to be well balanced to help you hit your goals during exercise.
What to do after poor sleep
So, is it bad to workout with no sleep?
While it’s not gonna be great if you’re working out with little sleep, it won’t be impossible.
According to a study published in the Sports Medicine journal, exercise and sleep deprivation may make you exercise harder. While working out when sleep deprived is definitely not recommended, it won’t affect your cardiovascular and respiratory responses to exercise.
However, you may lack the motivation to workout in the first place, and you’re likely to fatigue faster when you’re running on empty.
While exercise and sleep deprivation can be an uphill struggle long term with consistent poor sleep, even a night of restlessness has been shown to decrease endurance on a treadmill.
So what should you do after getting little sleep?
Make your goal to nab seven to eight hours of rest each night. Try to settle down earlier than usual and keep away from technology before sleep. Yes, that means less scrolling through social media! Try reading before bed, cut back on caffeine late in the day and keep to a sleep schedule.
Think of sleep as your opportunity to bank energy ahead of your workout. The more you can get in the tank, the better you’re going to perform in the gym.
Working out when sleep deprived
If you’re seriously running on empty, try to cut back on the intensity and duration of your exercise. Instead of risking potential injury through a lack of focus during your workouts, opt for 20 to 30 minutes of low-intensity exercise. This could be walking, yogging, yoga or even swimming.
When you consistently work out with little sleep, your body will not thank you for it. Sleep can cause a restriction on your body’s abilities when you’re lacking in energy – so don’t push yourself too hard.
Be sure to follow a healthy diet and look for new ways to overcome stress (which could be affecting your sleep!). Yoga, self care and a small walk in the great outdoors are great ways to reduce anxiety and stress, helping you relax more.
Looking for a way to get your energy back?
Sleep is a crucial part of exercise. Whether you’re struggling to nod off at night or hold your head up in the gym, the two need to work together in order to achieve your goals.
If you feel as though you’re running on empty, it could be down to your testosterone levels. Testogen works to boost your T levels naturally, reversing the symptoms of low T.
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