Lack of Sleep Leads to Less Stamina In The Gym.

The length of an individual’s sleep appears to influence their participation level in exercise the next day, according to a small study published in the August issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

So if you’re laying awake at night listening to the crickets and night owls, you may be a bit off of your game the next day.

Night Owl 2

Flickr Night Owl photo by Vince LoPresti

In reality, I didn’t need a study to tell me this.  On days when I don’t get to bed on time, or have a restless night I don’t have the stamina that I need for my workouts or training, or for that matter, anything else I need to accomplish the next day.  If I have several of those nights in a row, my motivation to get up to go to the gym vanishes.

The Effects of Sleep On Exercise Duration

The study cited in the Clinical Sleep Medicine Journal was conducted by Kelly Glazer Baron, Ph.D., M.P.H. from Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago.  Baron and her colleagues relied on self-reported data from 11 women with insomnia who engaged in 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three times a week.

During the 16 week study, sleep quality was assessed at the start and end of the timeframe.  Sleep and exercise logs and wrist activity were collected continuously. The study made the following determinations:

  • Sleep quality improved significantly from baseline to 16 weeks.
  • There was a significant, negative correlation between baseline ratings of sleepiness and exercise session duration.
  • Participants had significantly shorter exercise duration on days following longer sleep onset latency.
  • Daily exercise was not found to influence sleep.

Just knowing that we need more sleep can lead to anxiety that can keep us awake.  We all know that feeling of waking up in the middle of the night, looking at the clock, and not being able to go back to sleep.  Sometimes the stress of knowing I need to get back to sleep right away keeps me awake.

There are numerous tips and strategies for practicing good sleep hygiene that are supposed to ensure you will get a good night’s sleep.  I provided  10 sleep strategies from The American Sleep Association in the article One Way To Combat The Muffin Top Is With More Z’s. But when you’re laying awake in the middle of the night tossing around, it’s too late to put any of those strategies into play.

Don’t Lay There. Get Up! 

So what do you do if you can’t stay asleep at night? Lay there. Count sheep. More than likely, count on your fingers how many hours of sleep you can still get if you fall asleep right now.

Researchers and sleep analysts say if you can’t get to sleep or wake up and can’t get back down, you have probably missed the open ‘sleep gate’ and will have to wait for it for to re-open before you can go back to sleep.  The brain goes through several repetitive sleep cycles each night that last from 90 minutes to two hours. It is only at the beginning of the cycle that the ‘sleep gate’ is open.

If you are trying to fall back to sleep once the sleep gate is closed you should get up out of bed and engage in a relaxation activity.  This does not mean getting on the lap top, iPad, Smartphone or watching television.  The flashes of light and brain stimulation that these devices create will make it even harder for you to get the proper amount of rest.

Reading, meditating, journaling, and listening to soft music are a few things that might help you regain sleepiness so you can catch the next ‘open gate’ cycle and fall back to sleep.

If you suffer from chronic insomnia, you may have Sleep Apnea, a serious and debilitating health condition that can raise your risk of heart problems and stroke. If sleeping issues persist, check with your doctor to eliminate this or other serious causes.

What’s keeping you up at night?

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