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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

How Sleep Affects Exercise and Weight Loss

On March 4, 2013 the National Sleep Foundation released findings that connected sleep and exercise. The key points of the poll are as follows (but you can read the complete poll):

  • Exercisers say they sleep better
  • Vigorous exercisers report the best sleep
  • Non-exercisers are the sleepiest and have the highest risk for sleep apnea
  • Less time sitting is associated with better sleep and health
  • Exercise at any time of day appears to be good for sleep

In 2009, NIFS wrote about this same connection that stemmed from a research study on the topic. Below is an excerpt from that article written by NIFS Fitness Center Director, Melanie Roberts. We hope it will give you some added z's from it's insights!

The Sleep and Exercise Connection

The sleep, weight loss and exercise connectionThe Sleep and Exercise Connection Researcher Karla Ann Kubitz published findings of a large meta-analysis covering more than 10 years of sleep and exercise studies. The review shows that exercise significantly increases total sleep time and aerobic exercise decreases REM sleep. Kubitz also noted that those who exercise regularly, as well as those taking up a single bout of exercise, both experienced an increase in NREM and total sleep time. The result: those exercising went to sleep more quickly, slept longer, and had a more restful sleep than those not exercising.

The Sleep and Weight Loss Connection

While some researchers feel the link between sleep loss and weight gain is weak, others continue to investigate what happens in the body when it doesn’t receive the 7 to ­9 hours of recommended rejuvenation time. “Sleep loss is associated with striking alterations in hormone levels that regulate the appetite and may be a contributing factor to obesity,” says Michael Thorpy, MD, director of the Sleep-Wake Disorders Center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York. Joyce Walsleben, PhD, past director of the Sleep Disorder Center at the New York University School of Medicine, agrees. “When you disrupt sleep, you disrupt your hormones. You become glucose intolerant, you want to eat more, and you don’t metabolize what you eat as well.” Not only can this hormonal disruption lead to weight gain, Walsleben warns, but also to an increased risk of developing diabetes. Even mild sleep deprivation can lead to a disruption of these hormone levels that regulate appetite which operate on a 24-hour rhythm.

Need another reason to choose sleep over late night web surfing or TV watching? Based on findings from Pennsylvania State University, lack of sleep causes chronic low-grade inflammation and predisposes you to cardiovascular events and a shorter life span.

Sleep On This

So whether you've been exercising regularly or have just started with a single session, you can expect a more restful sleep than someone who does not exercise. And since sleep plays an instrumental role in the body’s metabolic equation, consider starting a fitness program today.

Topics: NIFS exercise healthy habits weight loss sleep