When asked what fitness is all about, most people think of being active and eating healthy foods. Actually, sleep is also a crucial factor to include in any fitness plan. You can get so much more from your great diet and exercise regimens if you fit adequate sleep into your life at the same time. You will make more progress and see better results. Here are a few of the reasons sleep is such an important part of fitness.
1. Muscle Repair and Recovery
The body works to repair your muscles during sleep. Because the brain is less active, there is more blood and therefore oxygen going to the muscles. If you are trying to get fit, you are probably engaging in some kind of exercise. Heavy workouts will break down muscles during the day. Muscle breakdown in not necessarily a bad thing. As long as you get enough sleep afterwards, you will build the muscles back up even better rather than damaging your body.
2. Hormonal Changes and Balances
Many hormones are more active during sleep time. Growth hormone is released during sleep, for example. This is especially important for children and teens. Sleep also keeps other hormones in their proper balance for good health and emotional stability.
If you do not get enough sleep on a regular basis, your body will begin to change the way it digests carbohydrates. People who have been severely sleep-deprived have been tested for their response to glucose, with surprising results. These subjects tested normal at the beginning of the test. After about a week of having very little sleep, their glucose metabolism was more like that of a type-2 diabetic.
4. Better Exercise and Sports Performance
Personal trainers and coaches these days are beginning to recognize the performance aspect of getting a good night’s sleep. Coaches have noticed that when their players are better rested they move more quickly on the field of play. They seem to concentrate much better and are more effective in their positions. Fitness trainers see similar results with the people they help. Their exercisers can do more and in better form than they can on days when they are lacking sleep.
5. Avoid Injury during Workouts
Avoiding injury of any kind is easier when you are alert and focused. Without enough sleep, it is difficult to maintain a sufficient level of concentration to keep yourself safe during workouts. When you are too tired to be strong, too tired to think clearly and too tired to react quickly, accidents happen.
If you want to be strong, focused and alert, practice good sleep hygiene. Likewise, if you are interested in better performance, get adequate sleep. Finally, if you want to get your body in fit and healthy shape, get into that bed at night and get your Z’s.
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