How Sleep Factors into Fitness and Weight Loss

When people say “weight loss camp” or “fitness retreat,” what immediately registers in their minds is a period of time of intense physical activity. It could entail a lot of running, swimming and sweating. Moreso, if it’s a military style fitness boot camp, people would expect themselves to be expected to be awake in ungodly hours.

What they forget, though, is that this is because one is expected to sleep early and enough in order to do such physical activities properly and to one’s full capacity.

While medical experts have yet to scratch the surface of how our bodies while we sleep, it is common knowledge that sleep is our bodies’ way of re-energizing and repairing themselves. This includes maintaining hormones and chemicals and optimizing the nutrition we get.

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Sleep helps us process better all the food we ate during the day. Therefore, it keeps the right amount of fat and nutrients in the body. It helps balance out hormones that affect our physical growth, our stress levels and our emotional moods. It also maintains our insulin levels, which is important in the prevention of diabetes.

In fact, our bodies treat it as a bank. An hour of sleep deprivation will make for deeper and longer sleep the next chance the body gets. And the interest rate grows.

A study was done on a tennis team and their sleeping habits. Their sleep times and patterns were increased and tracked over the course of their sports training. The study found that the tennis players’ accuracy and endurance increased in direct proportion to their sleep.

So how can people improve on their sleeping habits? For one, it is important to get the right amount of sleep. The recommended number of hours used to be 8 a day. However, because of the ever growing differences in people’s lifestyles now, experts recommend getting an hour of sleep for every two that we are awake.

It’s another common notion that physical exercise or work makes one tired and therefore, more prepped for a good night’s sleep. This would create a healthy cycle of sleep-exercise-sleep.

However, experts also encourage people to learn to tune out mental disturbances such as mobile technology, television, and stress caused by work, personal matters and, ironically, worries about one’s physical fitness.

Sleep hygiene is also one major factor that experts want people to look into when improving on their sleep and physical fitness. Some people, for example, find it difficult to get shut eye because their bedrooms are dusty, or because their sheets make them itchy, or their rooms’ walls are painted in a loud colour. Such special conditions can worsen other sleep problems.

Men, for instance are more prone to sleep apnoea, which is a serious case of snoring. This obstructs their breathing during sleep and causes infections in the nose and lungs. This also makes them more tired during the day. As with adjusting the kind of bedsheets one uses, a doctor-prescribed sleep mask can correct the problem.

Healthy Lifestyle Editorial by – No. 1 Sport Science Weight Loss Camp in the UK.

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