If you have heard it once, you have heard it one hundred times. The famous advice to get 8 hours of sleep per night, and then all your wildest dreams will come true. Well maybe not the part about all your dreams coming true, but odds are you have heard the phrase, and you probably aren’t getting adequate sleep; few of us are. So, what is the science behind sleep? How does sleep, or lack thereof affect us?

1. Sleep Deprivation and Obesity are Clearly Linked- For every hour of sleep under the basic needs, the odds of obesity increase 80%. If that isn’t motivation to make sleep a priority, I don’t know what is!

2. Sleep is Needed to Efficiently Metabolize Carbohydrates- If you continually don’t get an adequate amount of sleep (or poor quality), you develop a condition known as sleep debt. This interferes with your body’s ability to metabolize and break down carbohydrates, as well as messing with hormones, which can have more long lasting effects.

3. The Less Sleep People Get, the Less They Exercise During the Day- For every disruption during sleep, people on average workout 3% less. That can add up quickly over a restless night or two.

4. Inadequate Sleep Can Lead to Hormone Imbalance- Continuing to get an inadequate amount of sleep over time can influence your hormone level and entire endocrine system. Hormones can affect weight gain, hair loss, depression, and much more. Don’t discount sleep debt as a potential cause for these conditions.

5. Sleep Needs Increase as Activity Levels Increase- The harder you workout, particularly if you are doing endurance training of any kind, your body needs recovery time, and more of it. The longer you train the more sleep your body needs. Usually only increase by about 30 minutes, but don’t beat yourself up for sleeping in a little after a good long run.

Becca Capell
iFit Head Trainer

Gupta, N. K., Mueller, W. H., Chan, W. and Meininger, J. C. (2002), Is obesity associated with poor sleep quality in adolescents?. Am. J. Hum. Biol., 14: 762–768. doi: 10.1002/ajhb.10093
Karine Spiegel, Rachel Leproult, Eve Van Cauter, Impact of sleep debt on metabolic and endocrine function, The Lancet, Volume 354, Issue 9188, 23 October 1999, Pages 1435-1439, ISSN 0140-6736, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(99)01376-8.