Sleep and Fitness: How Sleeping Can Give You a Better Body

The professional health and fitness writer, Jenny Abouobaia, is sharing her knowledge with us.

A girl sleeping in a white bed
Image by Dieter Robbins. Source: Pixabay.

With today’s society being full of hustle and bustle, often our minds are so busy that it is hard to get our head down at night. Many people find it difficult to drift off between the bright glow of a touch screen and the ping of tinder. In fact more and more people suffer from insomnia than ever before. But how does sleep affect your physique and does counting sheep and drifting off give you a better body?

Why Sleep Is Important

The fact is, we sleep for a reason. Simply because there are a number of functions that happen specifically when we sleep. Mainly recovery of any kind. Think about it, when you get sick the best way to get better faster, is to get more sleep. That is because even though you power down, there are functions in your body working overdrive.

Think of it this way. If you imagine that all of your bodily functions, your organs and blood and so forth, are tiny little people doing jobs inside your body to make everything work. So, in the day when you are awake, it’s like those little people are working a 9-5 office job. They are working constantly at a steady pace, doing tasks like administration that keeps everything going.

But when you sleep, that’s when the night shift starts. These guys are like the people who dress the Christmas windows in big department stores in one night. They work super hard at super speed to get everything done in the few short hours they have to get everything ready to start the next day. Our bodies work like this too.

Everyone assumes stuff like burning calories or building muscle only happens when your awake. But actually it is while you are asleep that your body works the hardest to give you everything you need to be ready for the next day. Even if you don’t realize it because it’s hidden behind a curtain of dreams!

This is why getting enough sleep is super important. Most people these days only tend to get around 5.5 hours of sleep a night. However, if you can average this out to just an extra 3 hours, you will be amazed at everything your body can accomplish in that time. Especially if you’re looking to lose more weight and gain more muscle.

Sleep and Fat Loss

Everyone thinks that you are only busy burning calories when you are awake. I mean after all, this is the time you are up and moving about right? So they think the longer they are awake, the more calories they burn.

But actually, metabolism is a funny thing. Like a lot of functions in the body it is affected by sleep deprivation. In fact, if you are getting less than 8 hours sleep on average a night, your body slows down your metabolic rate. It starts to burn calories slower. Why? Because it feels it needs to preserve energy for you to be awake longer.

Studies have shown that people who get those extra 3 hours sleep a day from the average 5.5 actually burned an extra 400 calories per day. That my friends, is almost 3000 extra calories burned weekly from what? Getting a better night’s rest!

Build More Muscle With Sleep

Moreover, if your looking to get more gains, catching a few more Zs could be the way forward.

When you start weight training you are essentially tearing your muscles, you know because you’re getting ‘ripped’. What happens the is the proteins in your body repair those muscles making them bigger and stronger.

The problem is, this protein synthesis doesn’t happen unless your body is resting for a significant amount of time. For example when you’re sleeping. This means without rest, there is no recovery.

Therefore, if you go back into a workout without enough time to repair your muscle tissue you will actually over train your muscles. Plus, without enough sleep, your performance level is going to be down. You aren’t going to be able to give your workout the same level of commitment if you had gotten an extra 40 winks.

This is why it is so important, especially for bodybuilding and people who are taking training seriously, to get at least 7-8 hours a night. Give your body a chance to properly recover from your workout and in turn get the best results possible. So take that as your official reason to get an early night!