Sleep deprivation is a chronic problem worldwide. According to Princess Cruises’ annual report, 51% of people around the world are getting less sleep than they need. If you’re one of those people and you happen to exercise, there’s a big chance you’re negatively affecting your health.
Why is Sleep Important for Health and Fitness?
One of the hardest things about developing a workout routine is staying consistent. Missing a day can make it more difficult for us to get back into the swing of things, so we often push on despite it. In fact, most athletes will adjust their workout routines to compensate for an injury.
While changing up your routine and persevering isn’t always a bad thing, even when you have a knee injury, it’s very, very important that you get 8 hours of sleep regularly. If you don’t, you could throw your hormones out of whack, work out with poor form, or overeat after the gym.
How Sleep Deprivation Can Disrupt Your Fitness Goals
Working out when you’re sleep-deprived can seem like a good idea at first, and if you’re only a little bit tired, it can be. But when we’re really tired, we tend to approach exercise differently.
Sleep Deprivation Can Make Workouts Harder
Every task feels harder to accomplish when we’re tired, especially if it’s primarily physical. It’s why most athletes strength train before they run on a treadmill because you’ll lift less if you start with a more strenuous activity. Adequate sleep allows you to maximize your workout.
Sleep Deprivation Can Make You Eat More
When we’re sleepy, our body tries to make up for our sleep-deprived state by eating more. If you wake up feeling hungrier than usual, you’ll have a harder time staying away from snack foods and sweets. You may break your diet more often than usual when you’re tired.
Sleep Deprivation Can Cause You to Quit
It’s okay to work past fatigue once and a while, but it’s demotivating to constantly wrench yourself out of bed just to exercise. If you’re reducing your workout intensity and eating more when you’re tired, you may think your routine isn’t getting you anywhere, so you may quit.
How To Reduce the Effects of Sleep Deprivation
The answer to the question “how do I get more sleep” sounds simple, but a single night of adequate sleep won’t reduce years of poor rest. But, you can fix this problem gradually.
Have a Regular Sleep Schedule
Unless you have shift work or you’re caring for a family member, you should be able to go to bed and wake up at the same time every single day. If you want to go to bed at 10 pm, but you currently sleep at 3 am, slowly reduce your bedtime by 30 minutes until you go to bed on time.
Don’t Rely on “Catching Up”
Depending on how long you’ve been sleep deprived, it will take you a while to reduce your sleep debt. You may need to sleep in on weekends to pay off your debt, but don’t use the weekend as a crutch. You still need to establish a regular sleep schedule to always feel well-rested.
Reduce Workout Intensity
Exercise can help you sleep, but if you’re waking up early for an hour HIIT session, you’re going to feel even more sleep-deprived than you already are. It’s important to prioritize sleep while you’re catching up, so reduce your exercise intensity or session length to get more rest.
Stay Away From Temptation
Fixing your sleep schedule, staying away from unhealthy foods, and sticking to your workouts will be difficult for the next few weeks, so don’t make it harder. Set 5 alarms, keep bad snacks out of your home and reward any progress you make because it’ll help you stay motivated.