Does your sleep affect your fitness?
Poor sleeping patterns can have a harmful impact on our lives, in particular, our fitness levels. In fact, lack of sleep, which affects 33-45% of adults (1), has been associated with increased risk of metabolic disorders including heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
Do you think a lack of sleep is affecting your health? We have listed four symptoms linking sleep deprivation with poor nutrition and fitness outcomes.
1. You’re more likely to succumb to food cravings
Lack of sleep can affect hormones controlling hunger and fullness (ghrelin and leptin), resulting in food cravings. People who don’t get enough sleep often crave sweet and fatty foods – in fact, researchers from the University of Chicago recently demonstrated that people who had a good night’s sleep ate 400 less calories from snacks in the afternoon - i.e. the dreaded 3pm slump! (2).
2. You’re not meeting your fruit and vegetable targets
In addition to craving sugary, fatty foods, those who sleep less also report eating less fruit and vegetables, according to a study conducted by Stony Brook University of Medicine (3). Of course, after a poor night’s sleep, cooking a wholesome dinner is probably the last thing you want to be doing. What’s more, if you suffer from chronic lack of sleep, stocking the fridge with fresh produce (and consuming it before it perishes!) can even be a struggle. Many poor-sleepers turn to Uber Eats for convenience, although most meals ordered are not particularly nutritious!
3. You rely on caffeine to get you through the day
Coffee is liquid gold for many poor-sleepers. However, if you need 5 strong lattes with sugar to get you through the day, your blood sugar control, your energy levels, and your waistline will suffer. Many coffee drinkers also look for something sweet to eat at the same time – a double ‘negative’ when it comes to health! Furthermore, whilst caffeine is an excellent short-term fix for fatigue, in the long term, it can perpetuate the cycle by negatively influencing your sleep quality at night.
4. You’re skipping gym sessions, and you’re not improving in your exercise performance.
Sleep deprivation can reduce energy levels and motivation, making it extremely hard to get out of bed in the morning for exercise. Furthermore, lack of sleep can inhibit muscle repair and recovery post exercise, affecting your performance and ability to improve. This is particularly true with strength training (4).
If you can relate to one or more of these, it may be time to focus on getting some more Z’s each night, aiming for at least 8 hours! If you need advice on how to improve your sleeping habits, speak to your GP, specialist or dietitian.