Connection Between Fitness And Sleep

We think the biggest problem of our country India is SLEEP. Youngsters and even mature adults are sleep deprived! So is this a problem? What sleep has any correlation with performance and fitness? Let’s dig deeper!

Sleep deprivation has a direct correlation with performance and nutrition. Yes, NUTRITION too!! Look at this circadian rhythm chart below:


Circadian is a Latin word, “circa” means around (or in a circle) and “dian” means day. This is the never-ending cycle till we are breathing, the cycle repeats every 24 hours. We can see that melatonin is released around 9 pm, which means our body is signaling us to sleep. In this era, NO ONE SLEEPS AT 9! Let’s dig even deeper.

During sleep we go through two phases:

REM (Randon Eye Movement) – It is the last stage of sleep, we have got 5 stages of sleep. REM in general is the fifth stage (technically not a stage though). In REM sleep you can notice rapid eye movements and temporary body paralysis.

Every individual transition from stage 1 to REM stage multiple times during sleep. Each such cycle completes in 90 minutes, which means you will transition from stage 1 to REM in 90 minutes and then you will transition back to stage 1 and this keeps repeating. It has been touted that sleep 25% of your sleep should come from the REM stage, to call it healthy sleep.

So how long should we sleep? 8 hours is a good reference point, in this scenario, you would complete 5 such cycles and many pieces of evidence suggests that 8 hours of sleep has shown better physiological response. We know sometimes it’s hard for you to complete 8 hours of sleep every day, researchers have shown convincing evidence that people who complete 56 hours of weekly sleep get almost similar benefits.

BULLSHIT! I don’t sleep 8 hours a day, I don’t see any problem in my physiological responses. Glad you are doing well! But individuals who are sleep deprived (~ 5 hours a day) have shown a reduction in Leptin levels and a 28% increase in ghrelin hormone. Ghrelin is a hunger hormone, this means you will end up eating more throughout the day i.e. 22% increase in caloric intake. So if you consume 2000 calories in general then you would be eating almost 400 calories extra per day, and this is a compounding effect!

Also, individuals who increased their sleep duration from 6.5 hours to 8.5 hours for just two weeks showed significant improvement in appetite regulation. We also know during our sleep we just don’t get up to eat food, but when we are awake for longer hours and when have no such distraction then we feel hungry. We believe most of you have experienced that too, munching after dinner is a very common habit in India now. This is why brands like 24 seven retail outlets are doing amazing during night hours!

Sleep and performance:

A study by Aaron D Heishman and colleagues identified that athletes performed better in an afternoon workout session, compared with the morning session. He concluded that afternoon athletes had better sleep in comparison with morning athletes. He quotes, “We conclude that performance is suppressed with morning training and is associated with a decrease in the self-reported quantity of sleep.”

Another study quotes, Sleep is a fundamental component of performance optimization among elite athletes, yet only recently embraced by sports organizations as an important part of training and recovery. Sleep plays a crucial role in physical and cognitive performance and is an important factor in reducing the risk of injury. Many other kinds of research quoted that sleep extension i.e. napping has a huge impact on performance.

These are the common problem associated with sleep deprivation:
1- Inhibited ability
2- Decreased accuracy
3- Quicker exhaustion
4- Decreased reaction time
5- Difficulty learning and decision making
6- Risk for injury

These are not just performance markers, these are also life markers. We don’t want to injure ourselves by doing daily chores! Decision-making makes us successful, how bad it would be if we fail in the gym, field, and life? Sleeping is priceless and free.

Take away notes:

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