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Frisco Personal Trainer on “The Importance of Adequate Sleep” 

Let’s face it – life is hectic. As we push to meet deadlines, vie for promotions, and juggle our family life it seems that sleep is put on the backburner. With the pressure to make the most of every waking minute, many of us have just accepted that, though we need more sleep, it simply isn’t possible. But what happens when we concede to life and sacrifice sleep? How does this affect our ability to reach our goals in the gym? Lucky for us this is a widely studied topic and the results are eye-opening. The following is a list of potential reactions to less than 7 hours of sleep on a consistent basis:

1. Cancer- 50% greater in women.
2. Weight Gain
3. Diabetes
3. Heart Disease/Hypertension
4. Mood disorders- Including depression, anxiety, and mental distress
5. Impaired immune system.
6. Lack of energy and mental focus/Impaired reaction times.

As we can see some of these potential side effects are quite serious. So let’s look at this strictly from an exercising standpoint. First and probably most disconcerting is the fact that lack of sleep leads to weight gain. In fact it’s shown that those who average 6 or less hours of sleep typically have a higher BMI than those who get adequate rest. What has also been discovered is that when the body has not had proper rest it cannot regulate certain hormones that are important to maintaining metabolism, controlling appetite, and processing glucose. Two of these hormones in particular, leptin and ghrelin, control satiation and appetite, respectively. When leptin levels are low your brain does not recognize that you are satisfied and no longer hungry. In addition lack of sleep leads to higher ghrelin levels which increase appetite. So you are hungrier and can’t decide when you are full. See the problem? Another hormone to worry about is cortisol which is also known as the stress hormone. This can cause stores of fat in the midsection area. Add in the fact that your body will produce more insulin, a hormone which promotes fat storage, following a meal and now you have fat being stored elsewhere as well. Not a good problem to have.

Now let’s talk soreness. Many if not all of us have had those days following a good workout when everything is sore, not broken or pulled, but enough to let you know you had a good work out. Now imagine if you could shorten the amount of time you were sore. Well getting the proper amount of sleep can help. Remember that cortisol increases fat storage, well it also slows down collagen production which in turn lengthens the amount of time it takes for your body to repair muscle and connective tissue fibers. That means being sore longer.

So in summation, getting the right amount of rest will decrease soreness, control metabolism and appetite, help your body to not store fat, increase focus during workouts (and the day), and improve your immune system so you can avoid sick days and reach your goals faster! So how much sleep should we get? The average adult needs between 7 and 9 hours per night. This will vary from individual to individual. While some may be completely energized on 7 hours, others may need 9 to be at peak performance. Listen to your body and find the amount of time that works for you.

– Frisco’s best personal trainers