How Does Sleep Affect You and Fitness?

How does sleep affect you? We all know that exercising regularly and eating a balanced diet are critical factors to living a healthy lifestyle; but, did you know that a good night’s sleep can sometimes be just as important?  Studies have shown that sleep helps control your weight. It affects your mood and ability to solve problems and it impacts your body’s immune system. This often times impacts chronic conditions such as blood pressure and diabetes.

So how much sleep should you get?

Most people require around eight hours of good sleep a night to function. Some need more and some need less. As a general rule, if you wake up tired, you’re not getting enough sleep. However, it’s important to make sure you’re not over-sleeping or under-sleeping. Both scenarios can have a negative effect on your health.

The Right Sleep

Tapping into your internal body clock and finding the sweet spot in your sleep schedule is crucial to maximizing both your brain and heart health, and it also plays a big role in your overall physical fitness. When you sleep, your body’s central nervous system is restoring itself and repairing your heart and blood vessels. A good night’s sleep can greatly improve an athlete’s speed, accuracy and reaction time, and it’s even been found to play an important role in keeping a healthy metabolism.

Athletics & Sleep

Very young athletes need more sleep for recovery/performance simply because of physiology. Older athletes, basically anyone over 30 years of age, because of normal declines in growth hormone, also need more sleep. The better there sleep patterns, this will reduce chance of injury. A variety of wearable devices provide information about the wearer’s sleep. However, just like the pitfalls and inherent flaws in technology devices – they cant always be 100%.This makes you think,  how useful the data can be when applied to athletes and training decisions.  But, they can be useful as a starting point. Anyone who questions what impact their sleep is having on sports or just general performance, might find these useful.  What I mean by that, is that even at the layman level, a wearer could wear a device, get a baseline and then alter variables. These might include: habits, nutrition, activity and monitor what impact it is having on their sleep. Consistent lack of sleep increases bad catecholamine production in the body. It increases physical and chemical stress in the body and increases the likelihood/frequency of injury.

Sleep Aid

Over the counter sleep products such as Nyquil and similar products, are not a good idea for you because they are just central sedating products, not normal or natural methods to improve quality sleep.  Melatonin and Valerian Root are natural products that help some people. Individuals who do not have dietary constraints or certain medical conditions (or even specific food allergies) may find that a small amount of long-acting (slow burning protein) snack 30 minutes before bed improves the quality of sleep and helps keep the body in a more anabolic state which keeps the metabolism ramped up.

The Key

You want to make sure that you’re sleeping at a time when your body is prepared and ready. You want to allow for deep, restorative sleep. By keeping a consistent bedtime and limiting distractions, you’re helping your body know that it’s time for bed.  Taking the necessary steps to get a good night’s sleep helps ensure that your brain and heart, have a chance to rest. You need to let your body recharge and perform at its best when you wake up.

“Anyone who is any level of an athlete but feels that they are having issues with sleep quality or quantity should seek out either a clinician who focuses on performance optimization or a qualified nonclinical trainer with experience in managing sports performance.”

– Dr. Jay Rook, DO

Would you like to have a sports medicine resource right here in the High Desert? Contact the Heritage Sports Medicine team 




Heritage Victor Valley Medical Group (HVVMG) offers its members award-winning coordinated care with a speedy referral system. Heritage has 45 primary care physicians and a panel of two hundred medical specialists across Southern California’sHigh Desert, as well as the mountain communities. They also have a locally based members service team and is dedicated to a spirit of excellence. HVVMG is part of the Heritage Provider Network.