Why Sleep Is the Most Important Exercise You’re Not Getting

It’s that time of year again when everyone is crowding into the gym to get fit. And all this activity does wonders for your health, but not if you don’t get enough sleep. Getting good sleep is just as important as working out. Positive, consistent sleep patterns are beneficial to your health, and here are a few reasons why:

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Exercise, Diet and Recovery

Some people view sleep as time that is just wasted. This viewpoint is detrimental to your overall health. In fact, researchers have found that sleep is not “empty” time. Sleep allows you time to recover, renew and restore a sense of balance to your body.

Some individuals can get fanatical about skipping both sleep and rest to their own detriment. When working out, health enthusiasts often skip rest days. These added workouts are sometimes seen as ways to get ahead, but you are really doing yourself no favors. Not allowing your body to rest impacts your sleep quality and your overall health.
“Plan your rest as well as you plan exercise,” says Polly de Mille, a registered clinical exercise physiologist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan. Resting is critical for exercise, de Mille explains, since it’s when rebuilding happens. “If there’s no balance between breakdown and recovery, then the muscle is in a state of chronic inflammation — and what may start as a simple case of soreness can turn into an actual overuse injury.”

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Sleep and Losing Weight

Rest may be the most crucial component to maintaining your fitness. We often give our attention to the diet and exercise elements of our fitness and forget about our sleep patterns. If you are not reaching your exercise and weight loss goals, it could be due to your lack of recovery. Giving yourself the time to recover after a workout is just as important as the workout itself and can help you lose weight and preserve good health.

Get the Most out of Your Sleep

Getting the most out of your sleep may require you to adopt some changes that promote better sleep. You should stick to a consistent sleep schedule, watch what you eat right before bed and create a dependable bed time ritual. In addition, limiting daytime naps, managing your stress levels and exercising can promote good sleep.

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Creating a comfortable sleep environment is another great way to promote good sleep. Your sleep environment helps to limit your sleepless nights, and a comfortable one is based on a combination of science and personal taste. Typically a cool, quiet, dark place can help you sleep well, as well as an appropriate mattress. If your mattress is too firm or too soft it may hinder your ability to maximize your good night of sleep. Getting enough sleep can ensure you will nurture your own good health.
It is great that folks are crowding into the gym, as long as they remember to crowd into their beds to get some good sleep, too. Sleep is your body’s way of renewing itself, so allowing your body this time to heal will foster positive health and well-being.

Jennifer Landis is a wife, mom, and blogger who enjoys running, yoga, and very dark chocolate. She’s crazy for health and fitness… and also red wine. You can read more from Jennifer on her blog, Mindfulness Mama

Photo courtesyFlood G

Comments

  1. This is an area I truly need to improve upon this year! Thanks for the important reminder. Quality sleep is so crucial for good health!

  2. I know that adequate sleep is so important. It’s hard with a little one that wakes up, but I definitely try to get close to 7 or 8 hours a night if I can.

    • I hear ya! I feel quite lucky – my little one is 19 months old and JUST started sleeping through the night…most nights. :)

  3. Erika says:

    I’ve been working on my sleep routine. I know I need more sleep!

  4. Yes, yes, YES! I agree 100%, getting a good night’s sleep needs to be factored into your schedule just like making time for exercise and preparing healthy food!!

  5. Marysa says:

    I take my sleep seriously, and I can’t function well when I don’t get optimal sleep. It is like a tripod, sleep is one of those legs!

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