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Heavy Sleeping: How Weight Training Impacts Sleep

Written by: Nick Jack
Category: 2014
on 12 August 2021
Hits: 52

We all know that getting a good night's rest is important for your body, as is eating healthy and exercising. When you get the right amount of sleep, you manage to maintain optimal health and well-being. Adequate sleep enables you to have enough energy to be productive during the day, which is why there’s a relationship between exercising and sleep. Exercising offers excellent advantages that help us overcome a number of sleeping-related difficulties. Studies show that it can reduce insomnia, stress, and the anxieties that can keep you tossing and turning throughout the night. Weight training in particular requires an enormous amount of energy. If your sleeping patterns are poor, this can greatly affect your workout routine. In this article, you’ll learn the benefits of sleeping sufficiently and how it correlates with your weight training. 

More Sleep for the Active

People who live more active lives, particularly those who engage in high-intensity workouts such as strength training, need to have more sleep than their more sedentary counterparts. The purpose of sleep is to restore the body’s energy supply and provide time to recover, repair and rejuvenate. As a result, it’s only natural that anyone who utilises more energy throughout their day needs more time to restore it. 

But how much sleep do you really need?

The usual recommendation for the average adult is between 7-9 hours of sleep daily. However, if you consistently train with heavy weights, you’ll need more sleep than the average person. Your high intensity routines require longer recovery time as the body has used more fuel. It’s a case of high intensity workouts equalling longer recovery times. 

Deep Sleep

When you exercise, you increase your chances of getting a better, deeper night's sleep. The better your sleep, the longer your body has to balance your hormones. Your hormones act to increase tissue repair and growth that make it necessary for continuous healing.

Our bodies are designed to follow the movement of the sun, moon and the earth. This is called circadian rhythm. When light stimulates our skin or eyes our hormonal system thinks it is daylight and releases a stress hormone called cortisol which is activated to prepare our body for movement, work and whatever we need to do in daily life. Basically cortisol is needed to wake you up, and is meant to decrease as the sun goes down so your body can prepare for activation of the growth hormones called melatonin to be released to allow the body to repair.

If we disrupt this rhythm we expose the body to all types of problems as you can see in the picture below.

It’s important to understand that there are various stages of sleep that we experience. These four stages are:

  1. Awake: Rather obviously—this is the time spent in bed before falling asleep.
  2. Light: The second stage involves your muscles relaxing and your respiration starting to slow down. This slows your heart rate. Your body temperature also drops. You will be asleep here, but it’s a light sleep that’s easily interrupted by the slightest disturbance.
  3. Deep: The third stage is at your deepest sleep and is characterised by a drop in your blood pressure. Your body promotes muscle repair and growth, and when you wake up abruptly, you may feel slight disorientation.
  4. Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep: At this stage, your heart rate and respiration will increase. You will start experiencing some vivid dreams and your body will become immobile to prevent you from acting out your dreams.

All these sleep stages have a particular function to prepare your body for the next day—and your next workout. That’s why it’s important to experience all four. If you miss some of these sleep stages due to lifestyle reasons, you’ll experience sleep deprivation.

Fortunately, weight training enables the body to prioritize deep sleep the night after an intense workout. 

Physical Changes to the Body

It’s no secret that strength training has proven physical benefits for your body. When lifting weights, you build lean muscles. The more muscle you build the quicker your metabolism works to speed up your fat loss. Training also enhances your mood because it releases endorphins. These chemicals are responsible for relieving stress and pain. However, they are also well known for the pleasure effect that’s associated with them.

Exercising releases endorphins and this triggers an increase in dopamine production. Dopamine is the “happy hormone” that makes us feel good, and in turn, reduces feelings of stress. The physical changes that happen when you begin weight training are facilitated by your sleeping patterns.

When you sleep, your body works in overdrive to promote muscle growth and repair. Physical activity leads to changes to your body, and sleeping aids those changes, creating a positive cycle.

Weight Training Frequency

Strength training can be addictive, and sometimes, more training is not always better. Working out seven days a week won’t give your muscles the rest they require and this may impact negatively on your sleeping patterns.

The links between sleep's effect on athletic performance are well known, and this applies to weight training too. You can’t perform at your optimum if you’re tired—and this also applies to training too hard. Give yourself at least a day or two between weight training workouts to allow your body thorough rest. If you want to exercise, avoid high-intensity workouts or heavy lifting and opt for cross training options like Yoga or swimming.

The time of day that you workout also affects your sleep. Weight training is intense and the endorphin rush it offers will make you feel wide awake. If you’re lifting, try to do so earlier in the day, or at least two hours before you head to bed. This will allow your body to wind down and your heart rate and body temperature to lower. Both of which are necessary for falling deeply asleep.

Burn Calories While Sleeping

A loss of sleep over time can contribute to weight gain and obesity. This is due to an elevation of hormones in your body that are responsible for holding fat. Lack of adequate sleep leads to a slower metabolism, and ultimately, to weight gain. It’s important to boost your metabolism to avoid weight gain.

Refrain from eating large meals a few hours before sleeping and remember that all exercises boost your metabolism. However, weight training will burn more calories than the other forms of exercises because your body will demand more energy to power you through a strenuous workout.

As we age, it becomes harder to maintain the same sleeping patterns that we experienced in our younger years. Older people experience more sleeping difficulties compared to younger people and children.

When you continue keeping active and incorporating strength training into your lifestyle, you can positively impact your sleeping patterns.

The takeaway is this.

Sleep has an impact on weight training and weight training impacts how you sleep. When you get the balance right, the results will speak for themselves.