Not getting enough sleep is something that I just associate with today’s lifestyle. We’re busy. So what? But it turns out, without frequent, good quality sleep we could be damaging our health and reducing our mental ability. Studies* have shown how lack of sleep can contribute to diabetes and obesity, as well as making our reaction times slower by 40%. So if lack of sleep affected all this, it made sense that it would affect exercise, right? With the help of Time4Sleep, a mattress company, I decided to test this out.
Over a week, I kept a diary, logging roughly how many hours of sleep I was getting and the quality, energy levels during exercise and how it affected my mood. I started it on Monday morning and during this week, I had a personal training session, a bootcamp and a Body Pump session. Plus a few runs, in between. My sleep also varies wildly, from going to bed at 1.30am and getting up early, to allowing myself a full 7 hours sleep. It’s typical of my current lifestyle and as I look back over the week, it’s clear I need to make some changes.
Monday, Personal Training, 9am
I went to bed at about 1.30am on Sunday evening and had planned to get up at 7am to fit in a little work before my 9am PT session at Frame. I was so tired, I don’t even remember switching the alarm off but it was 8.20am when I awoke. I actually thought I was going to be sick. Wrenching yourself from bed when your eyelids feel heavy is my worst nightmare. Needless to say, I was late for my session but we still did a full hour (which I appreciate now). Strangely, energy levels were high – I had done my first weighted squats and made 50kg. Yay! I also expected that my adrenaline levels were up, having rushed through the house throwing on clothes, trying to make it out the door in record time (I’ve still not beaten 20 minutes). Who needs sleep for PT sessions?!!
Energy levels: 10
Overall: Once I was there I worked hard, it was just getting out of bed that killed me.
Wednesday, Bootcamp, 7pm
I slept well Monday night and hit my 7 hour’s minimum sleep goal. But Tuesday night was a different story. I told my other half I had crept into bed at 1am but in reality it was more like 2.30am. I got my work done, but I paid the price for it on Wednesday. I also couldn’t sleep the night before, so spritzed my pillow with Deep Sleep Pillow Talk which smells of lavender. It didn’t really help, my brain was still full of things. I had spritzed my boyfriend’s pillow before he slept though and there he was, snoozing like a giant bear. I think I had gone past the point of tired. For the bootcamp, what made it harder, was that I was taking the session. I run bootcamps every Wednesday evening at 7pm in Highbury Fields. It requires enthusiasm and the energy to motivate others. I gave it my all and went home, happy that I’d given my guys a good session, but absolutely shattered: I had run out of mental energy.
Energy levels: 4
Overall: It was hard work.
Saturday, Body Pump, 11am
Mmm to a good Friday night’s sleep! I’d gone to bed at 10.30pm (rock and roll!) and had woken at 8am. I’d also used the Pillow Talk spray again but this time sprayed it on the underside of my pillow as it was a little overpowering before. I could have definitely slept for longer but the prospect of breakfast won. Body Pump was fun! It’s like hanging out with an old friend, but this time, it was like an old friend who had no news. It was a bit boring and a bit hard going. My technique slipped a little and I didn’t push myself so hard. Had the lack of sleep earlier in the week affected me?
Energy levels: 8
Overall: I felt full of beans but the lack of sleep the previous days had worn me down.
I’d put a lot of money on betting that there’s a direct correlation between lack of sleep and your performance the next day. For me, what I didn’t expect was that it wasn’t my body that was unwilling, but my mind. It was like my motivation was being leached out with every hour of sleep I missed. And with this, my energy levels; I barely had the energy to make it to my classes!
The lack of sleep meant:
1. Lower motivation to do exericse
2. I became tired more quickly during exercise
3. I didn’t push myself as hard as I could
The lesson learned? That if I want to progress my fitness, I need to get my sleep!