Keeping Fit & Sleeping Regularly

Keeping Fit & Sleeping Regularly

Posted by Lori Shemek; April 5, 2013

There are many ways to stay in shape: lifting weights, dieting, jogging, playing sports, etc. With the exception of dieting, most of these things require people staying active and ironically, there’s a way to stay in shape by doing the opposite: staying still. Of course this doesn’t mean sitting at a computer at work, but rather, sleeping.

More and more doctors are questioning patients’ sleep habits when they come in for an exam with concerns about their overall health. The reason for this is not a requirement for better bedside manners, but sleep actually has a remarkable effect on a person’s mental and—especially—physical health.

If you’re exercising and trying to lose weight, don’t stop working out. Sleep is not an alternative to exercise, however, what health professionals have determined is that sleep is not to be sacrificed for exercise. As it stands, people today have schedules that are absolutely full. Work, schooling, kids, hobbies, eating out at restaurants, all these things contribute to a very active social life. As certain aspects of life take precedence, many people simply don’t have time to work out. This is where the problem lies. Usually, when people look in the mirror, or down at the weight scale, that’s when they determine if it’s time to lose weight. However, in such a filled schedule, a person must make cuts to squeeze 30 minutes to an hour work-out into their lives. Usually the first thing people cut from their schedules is sleep.

>Most people view sleep as a casual, unnecessary luxury. Many understand its purpose with child development, but disregard its continual use into adulthood. The fact is sleep is necessary to keep us alert, active, and healthy. For instance, sleep is the time the body takes for repairing muscle tissue and regenerating brain cells. If someone is sleep deprived however (6 hours or less), then their body doesn’t restore itself entirely. Of course mental health—specifically cognitive functions—suffers drastically, but many people think that a cup of coffee restores the damage. It doesn’t, but worse is the impact on physical health.

If the muscle tissue does not have time to repair, then a person will not see improvement in their performance, but rather they will be unable to repair themselves entirely. Furthermore, it’ll actually cause you to, unintentionally, gain weight. Leptin and Ghrelin are two hormones that are deeply integrated into our bodies’ sleep cycles. Leptin tells the body when it has had enough fat, effectively preventing us from eating more. Ghrelin is the hormone that causes us to experience hunger. The two work in opposition to balance the other out.

When one is sleep deprived however, the amount of Leptin decreases and Ghrelin increases, telling the body that it hasn’t had enough fat and needs to continue eating. This is a genetic recipe for obesity. Not only will you be unable to repair, and thereby strengthen, muscle tissue, but you’ll also want to feed all the time. That problem enhances when you consider that your metabolism also slows down from a lack of sleep—as do all bodily funtions.

In short, don’t sacrifice sleep for a healthy work-out routine, but make cuts from your favorite TV shows or from the amount of time spent in the shower. Sleep is important. If you are getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep, but notice significant weight gain however, that may be symptomatic of a sleeping disorder, in which case, the best thing to do, would be to visit a sleep lab to make sure you’re sleeping healthily.

~ Kim Bureros