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Snooze or Lose: The Relationship Between Sleep & Exercise
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Snooze or Lose: The Relationship Between Sleep & Exercise

In the fast-paced world we inhabit, the pursuit of optimal health and wellbeing is a constant endeavour. Sleep and exercise are two pillars that play a pivotal role in achieving this balance. While their individual benefits are well-documented, understanding the intricate relationship between the two can enhance overall health. In this blog, we delve into the strong relationship between sleep and exercise, exploring the ways in which they complement each other.

1. Quality Sleep Enhances Exercise Performance:

Quality sleep is a cornerstone for athletic performance. Numerous studies have established the positive correlation between sufficient, restorative sleep and enhanced exercise performance (1). Inadequate sleep has been linked to decreased endurance, impaired reaction time, and compromised cognitive function, all of which are critical components in any physical activity (2).

2. Exercise Facilitates Deeper, More Restorative Sleep:

Engaging in regular physical activity has been shown to positively impact sleep quality. Both aerobic and anaerobic exercises can contribute to better sleep patterns, helping individuals fall asleep faster and enjoy deeper, more restorative sleep (3). The mechanisms behind this phenomenon involve the regulation of circadian rhythms and the reduction of anxiety and stress - all of which are critical factors in promoting healthy sleep (4).

3. Timing Matters - The Circadian Rhythm Connection:

Understanding the circadian rhythm is essential when exploring the interplay between sleep and exercise. The timing of physical activity can influence its impact on sleep (5). Morning exercise has been associated with improved sleep onset and quality, while late-night vigorous exercise might disrupt sleep due to increased adrenaline and heart rate. Tailoring exercise routines to align with individual circadian rhythms can optimise the mutual benefits of sleep and exercise.

4. How Sleep Impacts Exercise Performance and Recovery:

Sleep plays a pivotal role in exercise recovery. During the deep stages of sleep, the body releases growth hormone, which aids in muscle repair and recovery (6). Additionally, adequate sleep ensures that the body and mind are ready for the next day's physical challenges, reducing the risk of injury and burnout (7).

5. Sleep Hygiene Tips for Better Sleep Quality:

Improving sleep quality involves adopting healthy sleep hygiene practices. These may include maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, creating a comfortable sleep environment, limiting screen time before bedtime, and avoiding stimulants like caffeine close to bedtime. Incorporating these habits into one's routine can contribute to better sleep quality (8). Placebo studies have also shown that taking supplements such as Ashwagandha can improve sleep quality too (9).

6. Adjusting Your Workout Routine to Improve Sleep Patterns:

Tailoring your exercise routine to align with your individual needs and circadian rhythm can optimise its impact on sleep. Morning workouts can help regulate your sleep-wake cycle, while avoiding intense exercise close to bedtime can prevent disruptions to sleep onset. Experimenting with different exercise timings and types can help individuals find the optimal routine that enhances both physical performance and sleep quality (10).


In conclusion, the relationship between sleep and exercise is undeniably symbiotic, with each influencing the other in a delicate dance. As we strive for optimal health and performance, recognising the interconnectedness of these two pillars becomes paramount. By prioritising both quality sleep and regular exercise, individuals can unlock the full spectrum of benefits, fostering a harmonious balance that transcends physical wellbeing to encompass mental and emotional vitality. The key lies not just in understanding the science behind this relationship, but in integrating this knowledge into our daily lives, creating a holistic approach to health that embraces the power of sleep and exercise.

 

Sources:

  1. Mah, C. D., Mah, K. E., Kezirian, E. J., & Dement, W. C. (2011). The effects of sleep extension on the athletic performance of collegiate basketball players. Sleep, 34(7), 943–950.
  2. Fullagar, H. H., Skorski, S., Duffield, R., Hammes, D., Coutts, A. J., & Meyer, T. (2015). Sleep and athletic performance: the effects of sleep loss on exercise performance, and physiological and cognitive responses to exercise. Sports Medicine, 45(2), 161–186.
  3. Kredlow, M. A., Capozzoli, M. C., Hearon, B. A., Calkins, A. W., & Otto, M. W. (2015). The effects of physical activity on sleep: a meta-analytic review. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 38(3), 427–449.
  4. Passos, G. S., Poyares, D., Santana, M. G., D'Aurea, C. V., Youngstedt, S. D., Tufik, S., & de Mello, M. T. (2010). Effects of moderate aerobic exercise training on chronic primary insomnia. Sleep Medicine, 11(9), 934–940.
  5. Chtourou, H., & Souissi, N. (2012). The effect of training at a specific time of day: a review. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 26(7), 1984–2005.
  6. Nedeltcheva, A. V., & Scheer, F. A. (2014). Metabolic effects of sleep disruption, links to obesity and diabetes. Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Obesity, 21(4), 293–298.
  7. Simpson, N. S., Gibbs, E. L., & Matheson, G. O. (2017). Optimizing sleep to maximize performance: implications and recommendations for elite athletes. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 27(3), 266–274.

  8. Hirshkowitz, M., Whiton, K., Albert, S. M., Alessi, C., Bruni, O., DonCarlos, L., Hazen, N., Herman, J., Katz, E. S., Kheirandish-Gozal, L., Neubauer, D. N., O'Donnell, A. E., Ohayon, M., Peever, J., Rawding, R., Sachdeva, R. C., Setters, B., Vitiello, M. V., Ware, J. C., & Adams Hillard, P. J. (2015). National Sleep Foundation’s sleep time duration recommendations: methodology and results summary. Sleep Health, 1(1), 40–43.

  9. Deshpande, A., Irani, N., Balkrishnan, R. and Benny, I.R., 2020. A randomized, double blind, placebo controlled study to evaluate the effects of ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract on sleep quality in healthy adults. Sleep medicine72, pp.28-36.
  10. Driver, H. S., & Taylor, S. R. (2000). Exercise and sleep. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 4(4), 387–402.

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