Six Ways Sleep Impacts Our Nutrition and Wellness

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Six Ways Sleep Impacts Our Nutrition and Wellness (and Number Five May Surprise You)

Our mothers and grandmothers weren’t lyin’ when they said “rest is best.”

When it comes to optimizing our performance in the gym, or producing our very best work, or feeling tops at home for our families, we have to sleep. We know that’s easier said than done, especially these days with sleep disruptors at our every turn, but the fact remains – sleep is essential to our fitness and wellness.

But what does sleep actually do? What are the ways in which sleep (or a lack thereof) helps or inhibits us? Well, we’ll give you six:


1. Physical Recovery and Growth

This may be the most commonly known factoid about sleep in the fitness space, but adequate sleep is crucial for physical recovery and growth. During deep sleep, the body releases a growth hormone, which is essential for repairing tissues, building muscle, and overall recovery from daily activities and workouts. Insufficient sleep can hinder these processes, leading to slower recovery and potential muscle breakdown. Said another way? No sleep = no gains = all pains.


2. Energy Levels and Performance

Feeling that 3pm need-to-nap-slump every day is a direct reflection of how you slept the night before. Sleep plays a vital role in maintaining optimal energy levels and cognitive performance. Lack of sleep can result in fatigue, decreased focus, and impaired decision-making! (Knowing when/how to modify; choosing the more palatable food instead of what you know would properly fuel you, etc.) Athletes, in particular, may experience reduced athletic performance, slower reaction times, and compromised coordination when they don’t get enough sleep. A good night’s sleep is synonymous with improved physical and mental performance. So get off your phone, go to bed, and crush it the next morning.


3. Metabolism and Weight Management

One that’s not as often discussed is how getting good sleep directly influences your metabolism and weight management (weight and fat loss). Lack of sleep disrupts the balance of the hormones that regulate hunger and satiety: ghrelin and leptin. Sleep-deprived individuals may experience increased cravings for high-calorie, high-tastiness foods (foods mostly rich in salt, sugar, and fat) – leading to weight gain. Additionally, poor sleep can negatively impact insulin sensitivity, which, over time, can increase the risk of metabolic disorders like diabetes. So once again, go to bed (and eat a salad).


4. Immune Function and Recovery

Here’s where our grammies had it right: because sleep has a profound impact on immune function, rest really is best. While it’s known that sleep deprivation weakens the immune system, the role of specific sleep stages is less commonly understood. During deep sleep, the body produces cytokines, proteins that aid in immune response by promoting cell signaling. Adequate deep sleep is crucial for the body to mount an effective defense against infections and promote efficient recovery from illnesses and injuries.


5. Memory Consolidation and Skill Enhancement:

Want to know why that brain fog rolls in every afternoon after a crappy night’s sleep? It’s because sleep is intricately linked to memory consolidation and skill enhancement. The brain processes and consolidates information gathered throughout the day during various sleep stages, especially during REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. This process enhances learning, memory retention, and the development of motor skills. Athletes and individuals engaged in skill-based activities may find that a good night’s sleep contributes to improved performance and skill mastery!


6. Emotional Resilience and Mental Wellbeing

You’re not you when you’re sleepless. Insufficient sleep can lead to heightened emotional reactivity and increased stress levels. That’s because during deep sleep, the brain processes and regulates emotions, contributing to emotional stability and resilience. And a lack of sleep may make you more prone to mood swings, irritability, a sour temperament ,and difficulty managing stress. Prioritizing quality sleep can stave off the swings; enhancing emotional regulation and promoting overall mental health (and wealth).


In summary, the impact of sleep on fitness and wellness extends beyond the well-known benefits of physical recovery, energy levels, and weight management. Understanding the role of sleep in immune function, memory consolidation, and emotional resilience provides a more comprehensive perspective on its influence.


Prioritizing a consistent sleep routine and addressing sleep quality issues can contribute significantly to overall health and fitness outcomes. If you need help here, reach out to Becky ([email protected]) to set up a meeting to discuss how to better your habits and improve your quality of sleep (and life!).

Photo by Gregory Pappas on Unsplash

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Crossfit Renew

Crossfit Renew

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