Sleeping Well

“On average we sleep 6 hours 40 minutes on weeknights. According to 2009 National Sleep Foundation Poll, 7 years ago we were getting 6 hours 54 minutes and century ago Americans slept 9 to 10 hours at night.

Getting enough sleep is particularly important for active women. Sleep allows your body to recover from tough workouts and readies it for the next one. During deep sleep every muscle in your body works to rebuild itself stronger than before. Well rested people are typically 20% quicker at performing physical tasks than those who lack adequate rest. Sleep plays a major role in muscle memory, which sharpens your focus and reduces reaction time.

How exactly does sleep help you get fitter?

According to the Center for Disease Control, 66% of adults are overweight or obese. When your sleep is deprived, your body produces more ghrelin, a hormone that tells you to eat more and less leptin which signals you to stop eating. People who sleep only 4 hours at night are more likely to choose high carb, sugar and starchy foods over healthier picks. According to the University of Chicago study, skipping midday meals may seem like an easy way to shed weight but doing so can throw of your body’s normal sleep pattern. Late dinners exacerbate the problem, a big meal increase the blood flow to your digestive tract causing your stomach to secrete more gastric acid making your pancreas and intestinal muscles work harder.

Studies has showed that poor sleep quality has the same negative effect on performance as not sleeping at all. Body’s ability to convert sugar into muscle fuel slows, so muscle don’t receive enough energy causing you to hit the wall during exercise 20% sooner.

In other words: eat smarter, sleep better, get fitter, it is that simple!

Michelle J. Alexandre, MD