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Is Sleep As Important As Physical Activity? Sleep, Metabolism, And Weight Loss

Apr 27, 2021Sleeping0 comments

Is Sleep As Important As Physical Activity? Sleep, Metabolism, And Weight Loss

Exercise and physical activity burn calories. As such, it makes sense that resting is detrimental to our metabolism, isn’t it? While we understand the reasoning behind that mindset, the truth isn’t as simple.

A healthy sleep schedule is crucial for anyone’s life. And yes, that includes keeping a workout routine and building muscle. Any healthcare professional will tell you that sleep is as important as nutrition and exercising.

The relationship between sleep and metabolism

Falling for the idea that sleep equals slower metabolism is seamless. We indeed burn fewer calories sleeping than working out. That said, you’d be surprised to learn the close relationship between sleep and our metabolism.

This study breaks down several interactions between sleep and our metabolism. Let’s go through sleep’s ties with metabolism, appetite, and diabetes.

Normal sleep and metabolism

Our normal sleep architecture cycles through different types of sleep. They’re categorized as non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. The latter is responsible for dreaming, and our brains act similar to their waking state.

During sleep, NREM sleep shows the lowest metabolic rate, but REM sleep also reduces energy production. Nevertheless, sleeping doesn’t stop systems such as respiration and blood circulation. These processes make up a majority of our metabolic rate.

Additionally, our body heals quicker while we sleep. That includes muscle reparation (usually post-workout), combating viruses and disease, and more. These processes also boost our metabolic rate.

Sleep deprivation repercussions

Temporary and partial sleep deprivation likely won’t cause long-term repercussions. The body rebounds effectively after acute sleep loss after changes like shift work.

However, recurrent sleep restriction is a different story. Growth hormone, one of the study’s metrics, doesn’t spike after prolonged sleep deprivation. Insulin tolerance also takes a dip.

Sleep loss and appetite

Leptin and ghrelin are responsible for our hunger. Leptin suppresses our appetite whereas ghrelin promotes hunger. During sleep, their levels increase equally. However, ghrelin amounts decrease during later sleep stages.

If we can’t sleep, ghrelin levels fail to decrease, and leptin decreases considerably. These developments lead us to feel hungry during the night. Prolonged sleep deprivation suppresses leptin in favor of ghrelin levels.

Sleep and diabetes

Finally, epidemiological data suggest that sleep irregularity is a risk factor for type II diabetes. It’s worth noting that both short and long sleep durations might contribute to this risk. Ideally, you must aim for between six and eight hours of sleep.

Again, the correlation between diabetes and sleep deprivation levels doesn’t mean that the latter causes the former. Nevertheless, sleep plays an important role in glucose metabolism and insulin tolerance.

The importance of sleep for weight loss

Who’s better to explain sleep’s importance for weight loss than the Sleep Foundation? We’ve already gone through sleep’s different relationships with our metabolism. Their article also goes through interesting statistics.

For instance, Americans have experienced a decrease in their sleeping time and sleep quality. The same period shows an increase in Americans’ BMI (body mass index).

On the other hand, correlation doesn’t imply causation. Experts still debate whether these developments share a link. Regardless, the article does share a couple of intriguing observations.

Metabolic regulation

Sleep deprivation tends to result in metabolic dysregulation. It translates into glucose intolerance, insulin resistance, and oxidative stress.

Sleeping also plays a vital role in regulating our daily schedule. Our circadian rhythm is fundamental for daily performance, and hindering it often leads to weight gain.

Sleep and physical activity

Naturally, sleep allows our body to rest from physical activity. That includes exercising, daily commutes, and other tasks.

The most critical benefit of sleeping is helping our muscles recover. Repairing tears in our muscles results in building muscle mass. Lean muscle burns more calories than fat, which enables us to lose weight and boost our metabolism.

The holistic takeaway

Sleep won’t boost your metabolism like physical activity. Exercising adds more calories burnt to your basal metabolic rate—or your resting metabolic rate. However, sleeping barely reduces your resting metabolism.

Furthermore, sleep is critical to keep your physical activity. Your muscles need resting to repair their tears and grow. Sleep deprivation—even reducing how much you sleep—to favor exercise is still a step back.

Sleep makes up a crucial process for our lives. As such, keeping our six to eight hours of sleep is as important as changing our eating habits and starting a workout routine.


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