Exercise and Lack of Sleep

When it comes to making sure you exercise, you also need to be sure you're getting enough sleep. Without enough rest, you'll struggle to find motivation to exercise and you'll see your performance suffer. Training with a lack of sleep is never a good idea.

Make sure to get enough rest before working out. Credit: Tony Anderson/DigitalVision/GettyImages

Training With a Lack of Sleep

Sleep deprivation and time of day are two things known to influence athletic performance. In an October 2015 review of 113 studies published in Sleep Medicine Reviews, sleep deprivation negatively affects performance, whereas sleeping more improved performance. Training when you haven't had enough sleep means you'll not only be less motivated to train in the first place, but it also means you won't be able to do your best during training.

In another small scale study published in the Asian Journal of Sports Medicine in March 2012, it was determined that one night of sleep deprivation doesn't negatively affect power in anaerobic exercise such as resistance training. However, it does adversely affect cognitive functions such as reaction time.

If you've been sleep deprived for more than one night, it may be time to evaluate your lifestyle for things that cause trouble sleeping. Ideally, you should be sleeping at least seven hours a night, and if you're not, no matter how much exercise you get, your performance will suffer. Yes, you can survive working out on five hours of sleep, but it's not something to make a habit of.

Read More: The Effects of Sleeping 5 Hours a Night

How Exercise Helps You Sleep

Exercise offers a variety of health benefits, one of which is better sleep. In a September 2012 Journal of Physiotherapy systematic review, with meta-analysis of six trials with 305 total participants aged 40 or older who had sleep problems, it was shown exercise training programs produce moderately positive effects on sleep quality. The exercise group had a significant reduction in sleep latency and medication use compared to the control group.

The 2013 Sleep in America Survey by the National Sleep Association examined exercise and sleep. They found that people who work out regularly said they get better quality sleep and that those who work out vigorously get the best sleep. Those who don't consider themselves exercisers, but make it a point to sit less during the day, also get better sleep.

Non-exercisers, on the other hand, report having the least energy. They also report having trouble staying awake during normal daily tasks such has driving, eating or socializing. They report taking more naps than the exercisers, and those naps are much longer.

Read More: Is it Unhealthy to Exercise Right Before Bed?

Dangers of Sleep Deprivation

We all know that one person who says, "I'll sleep when I'm dead." Unfortunately, many scary things happen when you don't sleep enough. Your body needs sleep to rest and repair, and without it, your health suffers.

According to a September 2016 study in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, lack of sleep and poor sleep quality are associated with poor diet quality, excess food intake and obesity in teens. Not only do they eat more, they also spend more time in front of a screen.

According to Mayo Clinic, sleep deprivation can negatively affect your body in numerous ways, including:

  • Cranky mood and temperament
  • Increased appetite
  • Poor concentration/focus
  • Decreased immune system

Sleep deprivation is associated with high blood pressure, depression, diabetes, and other health risks. When you don't sleep enough, you're more likely to feel aches and pains, too. The more sleep deprived you are, the more the ripple effects will influence your day-to-day habits.

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