Posted on

Exercise and Sleep: Get Enough Sleep to Perform at Your Best

People who exercise on a regular basis are usually aware of the benefits exercise has on your ability to quickly fall asleep and sleep soundly throughout the night. Whether it be the pleasant soreness from a recent workout that you feel as you crawl into bed or simply the sensation of knowing you will fall asleep within minutes, exercisers know first hand how big of  a role exercise plays in a good nights sleep.

Schedules, however, can impact your ability to get quality sleep. And most who have maintained a consistent exercise routine know all too well the impact poor sleep can have on their athletic performance. The random sleepless night shouldn’t cause any significant impact on you, however if you feel yourself stagnating or dreading your workout routine it’s probably a good idea to take a look at whether lack of sleep may be the culprit.

Exercise and Sleep: One Poor Nights Sleep is No Concern

One night of awful sleep is often the concern of someone who cannot sleep the night before a big competition. It is most common among marathoners, who have trained for months on end and will have all of their training culminate in a single race. Add in the fact most marathons start early in the morning, so you get to once again experience the recurring fear of sleeping through an alarm and missing the race.


Assuming you have a reliable method for making it to the starting line on time, poor sleep the night before is of no concern. A recent Dutch study indicated we will see absolutely no drop off in performance. Here is how the report was summarized by Scott Douglas of the Running Times:

In the “normal” time trial, when the men had enjoyed a regular night’s sleep, they covered an average of 7.68 kilometers, or a little less than 5 miles, during their 20-minute cycling time trial.

When riding after not sleeping, the men performed almost the same: they covered an average of 7.62 kilometers, and physiological measurements, including average heart rate, were also nearly identical.

As far as anecdotal evidence is concerned, personal trainer Eric Cressey, who trains professional athletes, agrees with this assessment:

I could always “get away with” one night of sleep deprivation and then still demonstrate “normal” strength the next day. If I missed out on sleep two nights in a row, though, my in-the-gym performance went down the tubes after the second night.

 Exercise and Sleep: How Much Sleep Do You Need?

If your exercise performance has plateaued and you either feel “stale” or dread going for a workout, it’s worthwhile to review your sleep routine. Generally speaking, most people do best with anywhere from 7-9 hours sleep. Get less and you will likely experience a whole host of negative physiological factors which Eric Cressey outlined in his article on sleep:

  • Sleep deprivation reduces insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance.
  • Sleep deprivation is associated with reduced testosterone.
  • Sleep deprivation…increases overall exposure to cortisol over a full day.

The good news is all of these normalize pretty quickly once you begin to get adequate amounts of sleep so your body can cycle through the sleep cycles and repair itself.

Other considerations are how old are you and how often do you exercise? Here are some general guidelines on what should work best for your particular situation. These may not work for you but they are general guidelines that are worth considering.

Sleep and the Young Athlete

Collegiate Baseball interviewed Dr. James Maas who has studied sleep and athletic performance extensively and consults with professional teams such as New York Jets, the Ottawa Senators and the Orlando Magic.  Here is what he said is the optimal amount of sleep that is generally needed for younger athletes:

Sleep needs go up from puberty to about the age of 26. The amount of sleep this group of people needs to be fully alert and full of energy is 9 ¼ hours of sleep per night.

 Sleep and the Older Athlete

The website Canadian Sport For Life has a good overview of the sleep needs based on age and they are in line with what Dr. Maas recommends for younger athletes. For older athletes the recommendation is 7-9 hours sleep and one 30 minute nap. Napping can be tough for people who work 9-5 in an office so if that’s the case with you it might be best to try to meet all of your sleep needs at night. If you work from home then making part of your lunch time into a nap is worth consideration. A sleep mask can help block out the daylight so you can get in your nap while there’s still daylight.

These suggestions are geared towards helping you get back into your workout routine so you can get all of the benefits of good health, which obviously includes restful, restorative sleep. If you get plenty of sleep and are still struggling with your workout routine you can discuss this with your physician or consult with a personal trainer or coach to see if you need to vary your routine or diet.


Posted on

The Great Weight of Sleep Apnea and Obesity

What’s weight got to do with Sleep Apnea? A great deal: as it turns out, a high percentage of Sleep Apnea sufferers also are obese. On their own, sleep apnea and obesity are both serious health conditions plaguing people today. Neither is immune to age, race, ethnicity or gender. And both are linked to many of the same health threatening conditions. Maintaining or losing weight can be a motivator for numerous reasons and those with sleep apnea should be aware of the potential benefits.

“35 percent of Americans are obese” according to the Centers for Disease Control. To be considered obese, a person must have an excessive amount of weight that can have an adverse or negative effect on ones health. BMI isn’t the best way to gauge obesity so it’s worthwhile paying a visit to your doctor to get a good assessment of whether or not you are overweight. Those negative effects can include sleep apnea as well as, hypertension, heart attack, stroke and diabetes to name a few. Sleep apnea is also linked to all of these conditions so if you have both you are putting yourself in the cross-hairs of many serious ailments.

When a person has Sleep Apnea, the airway is vulnerable in the first place, and if additional weight, such as the increasing neck size of an obese or, overweight person is placed on that airway, it can add to the chances of the apnea episodes becoming more severe. With more weight on the airway, it takes more effort from the body to open the airway after an apnea event. Other interesting correlations between sleep and obesity are highlighted in a particular study. According the National Sleep Foundation, “A 1999 study by scientists at the University of Chicago found that building up a sleep debt over a matter of days can impair metabolism and disrupt hormone levels. After restricting 11 healthy young adults to four hours’ sleep for six nights, researchers found their ability to process glucose (sugar) in the blood had declined—in some cases to the level of diabetics.” Diabetes and Obesity are well known to go hand in hand so, the relationship between the three is obvious.

Which is Better for Sleep Apnea and Obesity: Weight Control or Diabetes Education?

Maintaining ones weight is important for obvious reasons but, another motivator would be that when reducing excess weight, the severity of sleep apnea can be positively affected. Sleep Journal posted a study called Long-Term Effect of Weight Loss on Obstructive Sleep Apnea Severity in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes. The conclusion should give hope to anyone battling all three health issues:

Among obese adults with type 2 diabetes and OSA, intensive lifestyle intervention produced greater reductions in weight and apnea-hypopnea index over a 4 year period than did diabetes support and education. Beneficial effects of intensive lifestyle intervention on apneahypopnea index at 1 year persisted at 4 years, despite an almost 50% weight regain. Effect of intensive lifestyle intervention on apnea-hypopnea index was largely, but not entirely, due to weight loss.

Through guidance by your healthcare provider, it is entirely possible that weight loss could indeed, reduce the amount of pressurized air one would need compared to their current level. That said, each person is different and this would be determined by your sleep physician or during a sleep study.

Obesity affects more than one third of Americans today, and is considered a true epidemic. So while sleep apnea and obesity are closely associated with one another, the good news is that there are many therapies available, such as CPAP, that can have a positive affect on both. The benefit of treating your sleep apnea is that once you begin to get restful, restorative sleep you will potentially have more energy to undertake an exercise routine to help you lose weight. Losing those extra pounds, in turn, can help to lessen the severity of your sleep apnea.

About the Author:

Katy Norton resides in Oregon and works as a Supervisor over the Sleep Disorders Lab at St. Anthony Hospital. She has her Bachelors of Science degree in Community Health from Portland State University and is registered by the BRPT as an RPSGT, and as an RST by the ABSM. She is currently pursing her Masters of Public Health degree as well.

Katy has been working in the sleep field for 9 years and loves what she does, especially educating patients and the public about sleep medicine.

City of Sleep does not endorse nor warrant the content of the article(s) published on its website, and expressly rejects liability for any losses association with publication or re-publication of articles. Every effort to ensure original content with accurate citations, references, and credits, to original authors, has been made.

Posted on

Exercise and Sleep Deprivation: Getting the Most from your Fitness Routine

With all the gyms, personal trainers, supplements, diets, marathons, etc., I think it is safe to say we are a fitness-oriented society. In this country, we have an obsession with how we look and feel yet many of us are somewhat frustrated with our results. We can’t seem to get to the level of fitness we would like.

Sound familiar?

You’ve tried cutting back on fat and sweets and maybe you are doing a few cardiovascular exercises each week and yet you can’t drop those extra pounds and you’re feeling lethargic. What’s going on??

Well you may want to check your sleep patterns! The general consensus among sleep specialists and scientists is that adequate sleep is necessary for healthy functioning. Getting good quality sleep is a critical factor in health, weight and energy level.

Getting a good night’s sleep is critical to peak performance during the day, regardless of activity. REM sleep in particular provides energy to both brain and body. If sleep is cut short, the body doesn’t have time to complete all of the phases needed for muscle repair, memory consolidation, and the release of hormones.

Research at the University of Chicago found that people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to have bigger appetites due to the fact that their leptin levels (leptin is an appetite regulating hormone) fall, promoting appetite increase. Sleep deprivation may inhibit one’s ability to lose weight – even while exercising and eating well! This is why exercise and sleep deprivation will make it more difficult for you to accomplish your goals.

Some research suggests that sleep deprivation increases levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) and decreases productions of glycogen (carbohydrates stored for energy use during exercise and physical activity). In short, less sleep increases the possibility of fatigue and low energy.

In summary, our bodies are our instruments, so taking care of them needs to be a priority. This means getting a full night’s sleep and making sure you have at least one day off each week to rest.

Posted on

Want Better Sleep? Exercise More.

Want a Better Night’s Sleep? Exercise More.

It’s a myth that exercise keeps you awake. A recent study of 1,000 people revealed that the more active a person is, the better he or she sleeps. The results are staggering, considering that 83 percent of people who work out regularly also report sleeping well, compared to 56 percent of people who do not work out regularly. Why is the difference so vast and what can you do about it?
It’s no surprise that sitting at a computer all day means that bodies aren’t being challenged. Your body doesn’t think it needs much rest when it’s basically been resting all day. However, if you stay active, your body will more naturally crave those precious sleeping hours you need.

Skip the Sleeping Pills

The study also revealed that twice as many sedentary people take sleep aids as compared to more active people. This can be a vicious cycle and some sleep aids have addictive qualities. Instead of reaching for the pills, try your best to squeeze in some kind of workout most days.

Try exercising in the morning, afternoon and evening and make note of what time works best for your sleeping habits. The release of endorphins following intense exercisecan indeed boost energy, although it’s not the same thing as chugging a Red Bull.

Making it Work

You’re busy. Prioritizing a workout over professional obligations and family time sometimes seems impossible. Nevertheless, the physical, mental and spiritual benefits of regular exercise are impossible to ignore. Exercise’s mood- and brain-boosting benefits will likely make you a more valuable employee, parent and more.

Consider the downside to a lack of sleep. Not sleeping enough hours is linked to a host of diseases and side effects ranging from cardiovascular disorders to anxiety. The simple fact is that your body needs sleep. On average, most people need between seven and nine hours of sleep. Practice good sleep hygiene and habits, including exercising regularly, to make the most of your health.

The Basics of Sleep Hygiene

While exercise won’t negatively impact your sleep right before bed, other activities will. Don’t get caught up in the “click here” ads while you surf the Internet into the wee hours. Avoid any screen, from the TV to the laptop, at least three hours before bed. Stop taking caffeine in the early afternoon and opt for a lighter dinner and a heavier breakfast and lunch.

Some people swear by spritzing or applying lavender on their sheets and pillows before bed; the scent of lavender encourages relaxation, so it’s certainly worth a try. Everyone has the same hours in the day, so spend yours wisely. Make sure there’s plenty of time for both sleep and exercise in there to lead a healthier, happier life.

Not Sure Where to Start?

Here are a few exercise programs that have worked well for many people who are new to exercise.

1. Couch to 5k Training Plan

2. The Best Bodyweight Workout

3. Beginner Walking Workouts

4. Weight Training 30 Day Quick Start Guide

5. Six Week Beginner Hiking Training Plan


Adrienne Erin is a blogger and freelance writer who knows the value of a good night of sleep. You can see more of her work by following her on Twitter.


Note: City of Sleep does not endorse nor warrant the content of the article(s) published on its website, and expressly rejects liability for any losses association with publication or re-publication of articles. Every effort to ensure original content with accurate citations, references, and credits, to original authors, has been made.