Tags: sleep

Overnight success | Sleeping your way to ultimate fitness

May 8, 2017

Friends don’t let friends skip a good night’s sleep. Personal trainer, exercise therapist and keynote speaker Bobby Whisnand delivers a wake-up call on the importance of sleep.

Over my 26 years in the fitness industry, I’ve seen a ton of crazy things people will do to get that rock hard and fit looking body: crazy exercise “modifications”, a grocery cart full of supplements, 4–5 hour workouts, and of course those “ergogenic aids” which mostly go unmentioned. I can’t say I blame them for thinking outside the box when it comes to their ways of fitness. But, the funny thing is… the one thing they can do which puts the fountain of youth on the fast track to total body growth and maximum productivity isn’t in their Bag O Fitness.

I’m talking about sleep: Nature’s most complete cure-all. And the best thing is… it’s 100% free!

Overnight fitness success is a lot closer than you think, and if you’ll simply start spending more time in dream land, your entire body will operate at optimum levels.

Overnight fitness success is a lot closer than you think, and if you’ll simply start spending more time in dream land, your entire body will operate at optimum levels. I’m talking about total muscle recuperation, a healthier heart, efficient hormone production and metabolism, and a mood and disposition with which we can all be happy. Take a closer look at how powerful sleep really is, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll start spending more time in bed and spending less money at the supplement store.

Sleep and total muscle recuperation

Sleep is the time when most of your body’s chemical and physiological renewal processes take place; with many of those processes taking place in those muscles you beat up during your workout.

Exercise depletes muscles of many nutrients, breaks down muscle tissue (micro trauma), and leaves them basically in a vulnerable state. Although you may not be very active after your workout, your muscles are still working when you walk around, sit and stand, and other daily activities. And although these activities don’t seem like much, your muscles think very differently. Sleep is the only time your muscles can fully recuperate, and if you want those gains in strength, quicker running times, and a better-looking body, you’ll spend more time counting sheep than counting reps.

But wait a minute. Isn’t the heart one big muscle? Yes, it most certainly is.

The heart that never sleeps – or does it?

Do you wear your heart on your sleeve? You should! It’s the most important muscle in your entire body; doesn’t it make sense to be aware of what it needs?

It’s pretty straight forward: Nothing in your body is going to work without your heart – nothing! It’s also obvious that the heart is the only muscle that never gets time off. The only chance it has to take it easy is when you sleep and even then, it still has to work.

When you sleep well, your heart beats less and your blood pressure falls.

Basically, it’s a game of numbers: When you sleep well, your heart beats less and your blood pressure falls. This means less wear and tear on your heart and arteries. If your sleep isn’t enough or is of bad quality, you typically will have higher than normal heart rates and possibly higher blood pressure in the daytime.

Hormone production and metabolism during sleep

There’s a hormone producing factory in your body, and it’s called the endocrine system. This system releases hormones into your circulatory system according to what, when, and how much you need.

With a lack of sleep or quality of sleep, your endocrine system is stressed and your entire body feels it, especially during and after your workouts. It’s during good-quality sleep that your hormones are in peak working and efficient order and are being delivered to all parts of your body to replenish them for the next day’s work. Growth hormone, the hormone from your pituitary gland, is primarily responsible for muscle growth and recuperation. When you are sleep deprived, the production of this muscle building hormone is greatly lessened which affects your body’s ability to fully recuperate and to perform.

As if this wasn’t enough, poor sleep habits can wreck your metabolism and increase the production of a stress hormone called cortisol. When more than normal cortisol is released, abnormal amounts of glucose enter your blood, your immune system is suppressed, and bone formation is decreased. Without getting complicated, your hormones regulate or greatly affect every single function in your body. When your body is over-taxed, your hormones get way out of whack and everything is effected in a not-so-good way. Lack of good quality sleep will cause the body to do things it’s not used to doing.

And what about your disposition? Can it go awry as well?

Disposition and mood

Oh yes. We’ve all had the experience of a bad night’s sleep and the drag of the day after.

Most people can recuperate fairly quickly after one night of poor sleep but when you string two or more together the compounding effects show up in our mood. Let’s just say we aren’t as likely to smile or be as happy to see someone as we usually are.

This disposition can be short-lived, but when a lack of sleep becomes the norm, a person’s bad mood can methodically become depression in a relatively short amount of time. The old saying, “Where the head goes, the body follows” holds true. The longer your thoughts and mood stay negative, the less active you’ll become, workouts will be missed, a once healthy diet gets replaced with drive up windows, and projects and work production can get bogged in the mud.

Just like the rest of your body, your brain needs sleep so it too can have a break, recuperate from the normal stresses of life, and feel free to do what it wants for a change.

Looking for the fountain of youth

There are millions of people in this world looking tirelessly for the fountain of youth. They spend countless days and hours on their workouts, they repeatedly place their hopes on the latest and greatest supplements, and they do their best to eat like a champion; all in the effort of staying and looking young. Although these things are indeed essential to obtain ultimate fitness, their effectiveness is dependent on one supplement you can’t find in any store: A good night’s sleep.

When your well rested, your muscles and your heart wake up ready to take on another workout, your hormones have you at even keel, and you might not even get mad when someone is bigger, faster, or stronger than you.



Please note that the information provided in the Polar Blog articles cannot replace individual advice from health professionals or physicians. Please consult your physician before starting a new fitness program.

In the spotlight

Bobby Whisnand

Bobby Whisnand

Bobby Whisnand is a keynote speaker, personal trainer, exercise therapist, author, and corporate wellness program developer. Over his 26 years in the fitness industry, he has designed fitness programs for over 6,600 patients from all areas of medicine and has given over 500 presentations on fitness, heart health, and motivation.