7 Fitness Experts Share Tips on Balancing Exercise and Sleep for Better Health

When people think about fitness and getting in shape, the most common focuses are usually exercise and diet. We know that burning calories and eating right contribute to a better body, but what about rest?

Mounting evidence shows that sleep is a vital component of fitness as well, important not only for energy, but also for keeping muscles healthy and hormones balanced.

Research from Stanford found improved athletic performance when their basketball team slept more, and a Northwestern University study also found that people exercised longer on days following good sleep. Several studies also associate too little sleep with higher body fat and greater risk of obesity.

But not only does sleep boost your workouts and possibly weight loss, getting regular exercise also benefits your sleep quality, creating a symbiotic and complementary relationship.

Several studies show that regular exercise contributes to better quality rest and more overall sleep. University of Georgia research recently associated lower cardiorespiratory fitness levels with higher risk of sleep problems, and over time, regular exercise has been shown to helpalleviate insomnia.

In light of these ever-growing connections, we were curious to see how fitness trainers view sleep. We reached out to some of the top fitness experts and asked how they balance their exercise, health and sleep schedules both personally and for clients, and also asked them to clear up common misconceptions they see regarding rest in the fitness world. Read on to learn from some of the best in fitness.

Emily Schromm

Turn off the TV and stop checking emails at least 30-45 minutes before you start falling asleep for less stress and better recovery.”

On syncing exercise routines and sleep schedules:

Routine is known to keep you consistent, so if that means waking up early and making it happen, or going straight after a long day of work to the gym, STICK TO THAT! No matter your workout style, intensity, or preference, if you are consistent, change WILL happen.

Sometimes it’s just a success to get to the gym at ANY time during the day, but if you can avoid sweating hard right before bedtime, do so. Winding down before bed is a real thing! Don’t hype yourself up too much so that you can get as close to 8 hours of sleep as possible.

On overlooked or incorrect things regarding sleep and fitness:

We tend to “wind down” by catching up on the last episode of Game of Thrones (guilty) or by checking emails in bed. Technology and the artificial lights can greatly affect our sleep cycle and quality.

When we don’t sleep well, we don’t recover as well, and over time that will really stress our bodies. Stress can come in many forms, but usually fitness or weight loss plateaus are the most common! Turn off the TV and stop checking emails at least 30-45 minutes before you start falling asleep for less stress and better recovery.

Emily Schromm is a full-time online and in Denver personal trainer, CrossFit Coach, Women’s Health Magazine’s Next Fitness Star and soon to be Nutritional Therapist who has a love for lifting weights and eating real food. Follow her @EmFitMTV.

Jessie Pavelka

“People tend to look at the day differently, in a more positive way, when they give themselves the gift of exercise first thing before the daily hustle starts.”

On syncing exercise routines and sleep schedules:

It depends on the individual and their schedules, but I’m a huge fan of wake-up workouts. Doing 15 minutes of intervals in the morning is an amazing way kick start the day. I also find that people tend to look at the day differently, in a more positive way, when they give themselves the gift of exercise first thing before the daily hustle starts.

The good thing about sleep patterns in relation to exercise is, the more you exercise the better/more rest you get. There must be a balance between working out hard and resting hard. Be sure to shut off the smartphones (blue lights) the TV, the late night eating and most of all the mind in order to get quality rest.

On overlooked or incorrect things regarding sleep and fitness:

I find many people don’t allow balance to exist between sleep and exercise/fitness. True health isn’t about constantly abusing your body through extreme gym sessions or hours of pounding the pavement, but rather by giving yourself a bit of love in the form of rest. The repair happens when your eyes shut and you shut it all off. Be mindful and create the balances.

Jessie Pavelka is an American fitness expert and television host, recently joining The Biggest Loser in Series 16 as a trainer and previously serving as a presenter on two UK television series. Follow him @JessiePavelka.

Dr. Layne Norton

“Many people avoid eating before bed for fear of it making them fat. However, research does not support these fears.”

On how nutrition factors into sleep and fitness:

Nutrition before sleep is more important than most people think. Eating sufficient amounts of protein before bed ensures that your body can recover and keep rates of muscle protein synthesis elevated.

Many people avoid eating before bed for fear of it making them fat. However, research does not support these fears. In fact a recent study demonstrated slightly greater fat loss in people who ate the majority of their carbohydrate intake at night compared to people who ate them throughout the day.

Dr. Layne Norton is a natural pro bodybuilder, powerlifter and bodybuilding/physique coach. Heholds a PhD in Nutritional Sciences and owns BioLayne LLC. Follow him @BioLayne.

Kelli Segars

“Listening to your own body, and being aware of your energy levels and your sleep quality is the best way to gauge the best schedule for exercise and sleep.”

On syncing exercise routines and sleep schedules:

The most important thing to consider when trying to sync exercise and sleep routines is your own internal clock. While there are definitely some things that work best for the majority of people (for example, not doing a strenuous workout close to bedtime), something different works for each of us. There’s really no such thing as one ideal, set plan to follow in terms of a schedule of sleep and workout timing.

Listening to your own body, and being aware of your energy levels and your sleep quality is the best way to gauge the best schedule for exercise and sleep. While this does require some trial and error, it’s definitely worth it when it comes to feeling and looking your best.

On overlooked or incorrect things regarding sleep and fitness:

One of the most overlooked factors we see when it comes to sleep and fitness is probably not getting enough sleep and not allowing for proper rest in between tough workouts that require recovery periods that allow the muscles in the body to properly heal from strenuous training.

People get really excited about starting into a fitness routine and want to see results quickly, and often end up setting up patterns of exercise and rest that are not sustainable long term, making it highly likely that they don’t stick to the new and healthy habits that they started out optimistic about.

Much of the repairing that the body does after an intense workout happens while you’re sleeping, specifically during deep sleep. This makes it crucial to get enough rest each night. Developing a long term health approach that includes regular exercise, good nutrition, and adequate rest and sleep, is the best way to go.

 

This article was originally published on Amerisleep. You can view the entire post, here.