We do not know why exactly we need it, but we do. Sleep is one essential process that has to occur regularly. Without it, every system in the body is disrupted, our health suffers, and our productivity falls.
Sleep is literally what makes us human, and every sleep-deprived person can attest to it: We need it. Today, we will explore three ways in which sleep impacts our fitness outcomes. Perfectly time before the Easter break, so let us dive in.
1. Sleep is vital for muscle growth and recovery
Muscle growth and optimal recovery occur when muscle protein synthesis (MPS) rates exceed those of protein degradation. The body is in a constant state of breaking down proteins. So long as new proteins come to replace the old ones, protein turnover ticks like a Swiss watch, and we grow well.
One way to ensure optimal MPS is to consume enough protein, which, according to studies, is somewhere between 0.7 and 1.0 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Another way is to make sure to get enough sleep.
Studies show that sleep deprivation hinders the body’s ability to carry out protein synthesis, worsening our recovery rates and preventing us from building muscle.
2. Sleep is essential for optimal fat-burning
A study publis hed back in 2010 set out to examine the impact sleep had on subjects. Specifically, subjects could spend 8.5 or 5.5 hours in bed each night. This was coupled with a severely calorie-restricted, low-protein diet for two weeks.
This was a crossover trial: all subjects had to go through both conditions.
When subjects could spend 8.5 hours in bed, they slept an average of 7 hours and 25 minutes. When they could spend 5.5 hours in bed, they slept an average of 5 hours and 14 minutes. In other words, they fell asleep more quickly while sleep-deprived, which makes sense.
What is interesting is the weight loss. In both conditions, subjects lost around 2.9 kg (6.6 lbs) of weight in the two weeks. When they slept for over seven hours per night, subjects lost equal amounts of lean and fat tissue. When sleep-deprived, only 20 percent of the weight loss came from fat, and the remaining came from lean tissue. With everything else being the same, a mere two hours of sleep more resulted in significantly better fat loss. How we say this, same - same - but different, huh?
3. Sleep Impacts Our Athletic Performance And Workout Quality
Sleep deprivation can be harsh. Think back to a time where you had a few nights of poor sleep. How did you feel? Chances are, you were irritable, tired, and unable to perform well in the gym.
While a single night of poor sleep might not ruin your performance and halt the gains train, missed hours of rest add up and eventually tip the scale. Simply put, if you are not getting at least seven hours of sleep per night, your workout performance takes a hit and does not recover until you repay the sleep debt.
Common issues relating to sleep deprivation include decreased strength, power, and endurance, a lower work capacity, and low motivation to work hard and remain consistent.