Sleep and Fitness: What You Need To Know

Sleep is a natural process of the body, and getting enough nightly Z’s is important for everyone. However, if you are trying to achieve particular fitness goals, like losing weight or gaining more muscle, getting more sleep could be key to your success.

Just the other day I was watching one of those morning TV shows and there was a doctor on the sofa teaching people how to sleep. It seems funny to think something that, realistically, should be so natural, people are now having to be taught to achieve.

Our bodies are programmed biologically to sleep. We need to sleep. We want to sleep. Yet millions of people find it physically impossible.

Insomnia is possibly due to the hustle and bustle of today’s hectic lives. Or the warm glow of a touch screen which is accessible 24/7. All of which makes it much more difficult to switch off.

But sleep is needed for both physical and mental health. Let’s have a look at how it affects our fitness in particular.

Why Sleep Is Important

For anyone and everyone, not sleeping is a problem. Sleep is a natural function of the body and there are many things that take place. Most noticeably, recovery of any kind. Just think, when you get sick, the quickest way to get better is to sleep it off.

Everyone thinks that burning calories or building muscle only happens when you’re awake. But your body works the hardest to give you everything you need while you are asleep.

This is why getting enough sleep is crucial to attaining your fitness goals. Most people these days only tend to get around five and a half hours a night. But if you can manage to get an extra three hours a night, your body can accomplish amazing things in that short space of time—including losing more weight and gaining more muscle.

Fat Loss and Sleep

Most people tend to think that burning calories only happens when you are awake. I mean, this is when you’re busy and moving about—so one would naturally assume that this would be the main time that calories are burned. Therefore, staying up longer will help you burn more calories, right?

Well, this isn’t actually the case. When it comes to metabolism, sleep deprivation can be detrimental. When you stay up longer your body starts to slow down your metabolism so that you burn calories slower. This is to help you have more energy for longer because your body senses you need it to stay awake.

As it happens, recent studies have shown that people who get a further three hours sleep per night burn up to an extra 400 calories per day. So getting a few extra Z’s could actually help you reach your weight loss goals faster.

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Sleep and Muscle Building

Again, getting enough rest is super important for those looking to build muscle. When you start lifting weights, your muscles tear slightly—they are then rebuilt by the proteins in your body making them bigger and stronger. This is how you bulk up or get ‘ripped’.

The problem is, proteins are only able to rebuild your muscles when your body is at rest for a significant amount of time, for example, when you are sleeping! Therefore, without enough rest, your muscles won’t recover and will in turn actually overtrain. This can be detrimental to your progress.


No matter if you’re looking to lose weight, build muscle or just stay fit, sleep is the key to reaching your fitness goals. To get the most out of any fitness program, you need to be aiming for an average of eight hours per night.

You will be amazed at how much more progress you will make and how much better your results will be. Plus, you’ll have much more energy to give your workouts, just from gaining an extra 40 winks.


Johnny Gallagher

Johnny Gallagher is a certified personal trainer and nutritionist.

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