Sleep is essential to your exercise and weight loss routine

Have you heard about Louis? He is a fitness geek. He goes for a jog every morning and hits the gym in the evening. He follows a strict diet too. Still, whenever he checks his weight on the scale, he discovers that he just can’t shake those extra kilos.

Do you face a similar problem? Even when you follow your fitness regime daily, do you end up with minimal results? Or worse, does following a fitness program completely drain you of energy?

If yes, then it could be that you’re ignoring the most underrated fact of staying in good shape – Sleep

Impact of poor sleep on your weight loss routine

“The poorer the quality of your sleep, the bigger the size of your pants.” – Rujuta Diwekar, a leading nutritionist & exercise science expert

Sleeping means recovery. When you sleep, you are recovering from the mental and physical stresses of the day.

If you don’t get adequate sleep, you wake up half-exhausted as if you haven’t slept at all. This can be owed to a number of things, including unhealthy sleep hygiene and the fact that it’s time to replace your mattress. (Did you know mattresses should be replaced every eight to 10 years?)

When you wake up tired, you have strong cravings for tea or coffee first thing in the morning, which is unhealthy because caffeine contains dehydrating properties. These cravings continue throughout the day and you end up seeking out more caffeinated beverages, sweets, chocolates and other carbs.

Sleep deprivation decreases your willpower, making it more difficult to deny fast food.

Reverse effects of poor sleep on exercise

As you know, when you exercise, your muscles break down and they require recovery time. If you don’t sleep, your muscles don’t get the opportunity to recover from the strain.

In the study of ACSM, 12 athletes went without a proper night’s rest. The next day, participants found that while they could engage in mental activities like music, reading, watching movies, etc., they didn’t have enough energy to effectively participate in physical activities.

Yes, nutritional supplements and foods high in protein will help you recover, but nothing can substitute a proper sleep.

Additionally, exercising when your body is tired can lead to unnecessary injuries which ultimately derail your fitness and weight loss plans!

Consistent deep-sleep gives you a fresh start for every day

An active mind and body helps you make healthy diet choices and keeps you energized and motivated to embrace your exercise programme. The Sealy suggestion? Every time you take on a new eating plan or exercise regime, be sure to include at least seven to eight of sleep as a mandatory part of that plan. Healthy diet, exercise and sleep go hand in hand.

Stronger core = better sleep

Can getting stronger abs, get you better sleep? Damn straight it can! A strong core = better sleep.

Your diaphragm is a band of muscles that separates your internal organs (like your stomach, liver and colon) from your chest cavity (that contains your heart and lungs). The diaphragm is like a hammock that is pulled tight by your core muscles.

A solid core means a happier diaphragm which means healthier, deeper, more nourishing breathing.

So yes, a stronger core could mean better sleep for you if you suffer from conditions like sleep apnoea.

Your internal organs are housed within your core. Abdominal fat cushions and protects these organs from harm, however, too much abdominal fat can hurt your spine while standing and put pressure onto your vital organs while sleeping.

Strong abdominal and back muscles use fat to keep them functioning which helps burn up any unhelpful fat that is lying near them.

This helps to keep blood flowing to our organs so that they can perform optimally.

The larger you are, the harder your heart has to work. So strengthening your core could mean that your heart gets stronger and gets to relax more when you are sleeping.

A smaller waste circumference is linked to lower risk of developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease.

Lastly, your spine has to carry the excess load you lug around each day.

If back pain is keeping you up then strengthening your core could help reduce the pain and get you snoozing more deeply.

Furthermore, if your pain is so bad that you can only sleep when taking pain-killers, then strengthening your core could help you reduce the frequency and/or dosage of pain meds.

So what are you waiting for? Figure out what work outs work for you by trying into high-intensity, yoga or pilates to get a stronger core.

Get fitter, sleep more

Could those who sleep longer, actually become fitter?

This is an interesting question as it challenges what we know about most gym buffs – that they train for long hours both before and after dark. Is it truly necessary to rise-and-shine at 4am to get fitter? Or could lying-in actually be a step towards, rather than away, from fitness?

Good sleep and fitness really are great friends.

  • Exercise promotes good, deep sleep. In turn, sleep promotes healing and repair which helps the body perform better during exercise.
  • Exercise produces endorphins that help improve mental health. In turn, a good mood supports regular exercise.
  • Exercise boosts the immune system. A good immune system helps good sleep, but good sleep also promotes a good immune system.

So rather than choosing one over the other, it appears that you may need to make-the-circle-bigger and find a way to embrace both a little more exercise and a little more sleep.

Not sure what you should be aiming for? The professionals recommend:

  1. one hour of activity preferably outside per day (this could be walking your dog, riding a bike to work or chasing your kids around the park)
  2. 6 – 8 hours of quality sleep each day (this could be taken in one stretch or broken up into smaller chunks)

If you can find both a fitness regime and a bed that you love then it should be easier to achieve both of these each and every day.

To find a bed you love visit www.sealy.co.za.

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