If you are trying to lose weight or build muscle through regular exercise, then you already know that creating a balanced exercise routine, having a good pair of workout shoes, drinking plenty of water and looking out for any weight loss plateaus are all essential components to your fitness success. There is a lesser known component, however, that may or may not be holding you back from achieving optimal results.
What is that additional piece of the puzzle? The amount of sleep you get every night. Scientists have discovered that your sleep directly affects the success of your workout program.
Although it’s often overlooked, sleep is essential to maintaining your health as you age. Your body uses your time spent asleep to repair the cellular breakdown that occurs each day, giving your immune system the boost it needs to protect you against sickness and diseases. Sleep also recharges us and allows our body to perform at its very best, especially while exercising.
Since sleep and regular exercise are not commonly associated with one another, making the connection between getting enough sleep and your ability to lose weight and build muscle might not seem rational. The reality, however, is that there are many reasons why sleep is an essential element of senior fitness and dieting:
- Sleep preserves muscles. Not getting enough sleep often results in muscle loss, and it can even increase your risk of injuries while exercising.
- Sleep affects the effectiveness of your healthy diet. According to a recent study, getting less than seven hours of sleep a night actually undoes the benefits of dieting. Many studies have shown that a lack of sleep can slow your metabolism and increase your appetite, especially for sugary foods.
- Sleep reduces fat storage. If you’re a troubled sleeper, your body has more difficulty using insulin, which puts you at a higher risk of diabetes.
- Sleep keeps your cravings at bay. When you’re sleeping, your body uses this time to manage ghrelin and leptin, the two hormones that control hunger, but when you’re sleep deprived, these hormone levels rise and cause you to crave more unhealthy foods.
While these are all reasons why sleep is an essential element of an effective workout program, regular exercise is just as important in promoting a good night’s sleep. According to a recent study, exercising for at least 150 minutes a week helps improve your overall sleep quality by 65 percent.
What To Do If You’re A Troubled Sleeper
If you’re a troubled sleeper, you certainly aren’t alone, as nearly a third of people do not get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep every night. There are, however, some very simple things you can do to ensure that you can enjoy the many benefits of both a good night’s sleep and regular exercise:
- Plan on going to bed and waking up each morning at approximately the same time.
- Avoid eating large meals before bedtime as this will only give your body more energy.
- Similar to large meals, you should also avoid alcohol and caffeine before bedtime.
- Your bedroom should be dark, quiet and kept at a cool temperature.
- Remove as many distractions as possible, and try to reserve your bedroom specifically for sleeping.
- Avoid bright lighting and looking at screens an hour before you go to bed to help your eyes and mind start to relax.
- Keep bedside clocks facing away from you so you’re not distracted by the light or experience anxiety over the passing of time.
- Create a nightly bedtime ritual. This habit will help your body get ready for sleep faster.
- Use a wearable fitness tracker that will keep track of and monitor your sleep.
Although sleep aids and sleeping pills were designed to help troubled sleepers, these can be habit-forming and worsen your sleep hygiene. Speak with your doctor before using them or if you continue to experience sleeping problems as this may be a sign of a bigger health issue.
Round-the-Clock Protection in any Situation
Since maintaining your balance becomes more difficult with age, your risk of experiencing an accident while exercising or even when you’re getting in and out of bed is much greater. Luckily, Medical Guardian’s medical alert devices are versatile enough to keep you connected to help whether you are in the middle of a workout program or catching some z’s in the bedroom.