There are three main facets to consider for your physical well-being: Exercise, Nutrition, and Sleep. All gyms talk about exercise. Some gyms (like Ripple Effect!) include nutrition coaching in their practice. However, Sleep is a pillar of your physical well-being that most gyms rarely mention, except perhaps to very high-level athletes who are training “full time.” Just because you’re not trying to make the Olympics, doesn’t mean you should ignore sleep as a component of your fitness!
Exercising stresses your body. At the gym you’re putting yourself through the wringer, with the intention of coming out the other side a little stronger and a little faster. If you don’t get enough sleep to allow your body to go through it’s vital recovery process, you’re just going to get flattened and stay there!
Sleep plays a pivotal role in both building muscle, and burning fat. Studies have shown that cutting your sleep short sabotages your efforts to burn fat or build muscle by as much as 50%! You’re also likely to feel more hungry when you get less sleep, due to the hormone mix your brain kicks out when it’s running low on sleep. It’s a double-whammy. You burn less fat, and feel more hungry. Exercising more to try to get better results will just compound the problem.
Training hard day after day in the gym, without giving your body enough sleep, is like taking hours to prepare a delicious new recipe, only to pull it out of the oven halfway through cooking it. Can you still eat it? Probably. But it’s not going to taste great, it’ll probably make you a little sick, and overall it won’t give you the end result you wanted.
Assuming you’ve got a solid nutrition program and regular training, if you’ve hit a plateau with your results, or your body composition seems out of whack — take a hard look at your sleep habits and consider prioritizing sleep!
In our next post we’ll go over some practical ways to ensure good quality sleep. For now, at least try to make room in your schedule for around 8 hours of uninterrupted time in bed at night, as often as possible.
— Coach Chris