Long summer days are one of the best things about living in Seattle. But, when it doesn’t get dark until 10 pm, and the sun rises at 5 am, it’s easy to get behind on your sleep. Add that to an already busy, stressful schedule and you could be shooting yourself in the foot in terms of fitness.
And, it doesn’t matter who your personal trainer is, the fitness classes you’re attending, or the Seattle gym you’re going to. If you’re stressed out, and not getting enough sleep you’re going to struggle to stay committed and see the results you want.
So, let’s first talk about how stress and lack of sleep prevents you from seeing results. Then we’ll discuss some tips to get you back on schedule.
Sleep is Necessary for Recovery
We often grind ourselves into the ground with busy schedules, missing sleep in an attempt to squeeze more out of our day. Unfortunately, we often get the opposite effect. We can’t think clearly, our muscles ache and we stumble out of bed. That’s because you’re not getting enough rest.
When you sleep, most of your body is in an anabolic state. That means, as you snooze away, your body is busy restoring vital tissues and systems, including muscle. So, if you deprive yourself of sleep, you deprive your body of its natural restoration process. That means you’ll take longer to heal from workouts, leaving you more prone to injury.
Lack of Sleep Saps Your Energy Stores
This seems obvious, right? When you lose sleep your whole day can seem like a struggle. Coffee might carry you through the work day, but it won’t be enough to raise your exercise intensity. With sleep deprivation, there’s a decrease in the production of glycogen, which are the energy stores kept in muscle.
Glycogen is the predominant source of energy during moderate or high intensity exercise. So, in order to keep performing at your best, your body needs to restore that energy supply. If you continue to push yourself, while lacking sleep, you can even put yourself into a catabolic state where your body begins breaking down muscle to fuel itself, and compensate for the lack of energy stores. That’s bad news.
Elevated Cortisol Effects Performance
Cortisol is the hormone most commonly associated with stress. In stressful situations cortisol rises, and shifts our metabolism to fuel the “fight or flight” response. To do that, it shifts your body into a catabolic state allowing muscle and fat to be more quickly utilized as a fuel source. A rise in cortisol is also accompanied by a reduction in anabolic growth hormones. So, essentially, your body shifts from a building mode to a break down mode.
It’s natural for your cortisol to rise and fall naturally. It rises higher in the morning, and can also be elevated after a workout. This is normal. But, it becomes a problem when you have chronically elevated cortisol levels, due to chronic stress, or lack of sleep.
Stress and Lack of Sleep Affect Eating Habits
We all know what happens to our diet when we’re stressed or tired. Our diet goes out the window and we become more susceptible to emotional eating. Sweets become harder to resist. Rather than reaching for something with the proper nutrients for growth we reach for convenience foods. Like everything else we’ve discussed, this can turn into a perpetual cycle that keeps us stressed and tired, without seeing results.
Tips to Combat Stress and Lack of Sleep
If you’re bumping up against some of these problems, and feeling fatigued, the solution is not to push harder. Instead, you need to focus on improving your stress and sleep first. By doing so, you’ll recharge your batteries allowing you to work harder, and recover more effectively.
Here are a few tips for improving your sleep:
Turn off your phone and electronics an hour before bedtime
Use your bedroom for sleep only - no laptops or work allowed!
Avoid caffeine after 3 pm
Install blackout curtains
Commit to creating a sleep routine - go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day
Prepare for sleep with music, a book, or a bath
As you begin to sleep better, you might find your stress lifting as well. As that happens, you might be tempted to take on more commitments or responsibilities. But hold off, until you can maintain it. First you need to make a commitment to yourself, to create a balanced schedule that doesn’t push yourself to the point where your overstressed and missing sleep. For exercise, that might mean aiming for just three workouts per week, and finding a gym that’s convenient for you. For instance, if you work in Belltown, it might be convenient to join a gym in downtown Seattle that you can hit before or after work. And, by doing so you might even avoid commuter traffic, which itself is a stressor.
Whatever you choose to do, remember that managing your sleep and stress are crucial to seeing results from your workouts. You can hire the best personal trainer in Seattle, and still spin your wheels if you ignore your stress and sleep cycle. Seeing results starts with you. Take care of your sleep, reduce your stress, work hard, and then you’ll see the results you want.
Demco Fitness is a Seattle gym that offers personal training in Seattle, semi-private sessions and fitness classes. Demco is located in the heart of Belltown and features several passionate and experienced trainers to meet your demands. Call or stop in today and ask how you can try us out for free or get your first month for only $200.