Must. Get. Sleep.

Happy almost-Friday! One more day until it’s another 3-day weekend for me, and this week can’t be dragging long enough.

I had a good time reading through your favorite childhood books in response to my last post. I had completely forgotten about some of those, so it was a nice trip down Nostalgia Lane 🙂

Yesterday was freezing cold. During fall, winter, and spring in Colorado, it’s hard to get used to a temperature because it’s ALWAYS changing. It had been in the high 50’s-60’s for about a week, and then a snow storm came pouring in. I bundled up as best I could and willed myself to get accustomed to the coldness.

Thankfully, it stopped snowing in the afternoon, and temps should be returning to the 50’s for the weekend (yayyy). Due to the cold though, I didn’t feel like going outside at all yesterday once I got home. So, I stayed at home and did an hour of Zumba on my Wii, followed by a solid 15 minutes of stretching.

After eating dinner, helping my roommate clean up the kitchen, and taking a long (very hot) shower, I curled into bed with a book to call it an early night. For good reason, too: I’ve been extremely sleep-deprived since Saturday night.

Maybe I’m subconsciously really stressed about work, but I’ve been having a hard time sleeping since the weekend. I either can’t stay asleep for more than an hour or two at a time, or I just lay in bed until well past midnight even if I get to bed on time. This wouldn’t be as big of a deal if  I didn’t have to wake up at 5:30am to get to work on time. I think I’ve been averaging 5 hours of sleep a night. I have no trouble falling asleep in my car during my lunch breaks to keep myself from passing out on my desk though.

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I think the issue is that I have a more difficult time falling asleep when I’m very tired. Even though I’m so exhausted, I just lay in bed and can’t sleep. The next night is usually more difficult because my sleepiness is compounded by my continued lack of sleep from the nights before, and I start getting anxious at bedtime wondering if I’ll be able to sleep that night.

So, where am I going with this? In addition to being necessary for everyday functionality, sleep is extremely vital for obtaining and maintaining your fitness and health goals.

Don’t believe me? Check out this article from the Huffington Post (I know it’s not a health site, but there are tons of studies out there. I was just too lazy to search for a different one.) According to the article, sleep affects hormones tied to appetite. People who slept less than seven to eight hours a night often experienced weight gain, and those who slept less than that amount weighed more than those who slept a greater amount.

This is the side effect I’ve been experiencing the most. I’m not in maintenance mode yet, so I still weigh myself about three times a week. Since Saturday, I’ve gained a whopping six lbs. I’m only 5’3″, so that’s a decent chunk of change for weight gain. I’ve been eating mindlessly and in much larger portions than I usually do. I also have been drinking less water, inhaling way more coffee, and consuming more sweet treats (I normally don’t have a big sweet tooth).

In addition to the weight gain, my lack of sleep has left me feeling sluggish during workouts and has greatly increased my recovery time between them.  I attribute this to the fact that your body rebuilds from tough workouts while you rest, sleep in particular. The same article states that our growth hormones responsible for tissue repair, body fat reduction, and healthy immune function are released during sleep. With less and less sleep, my body isn’t being given the time to restore worked muscles, replenish energy stores, and all of that other good stuff that I need to hit an intense workout. (Also probably why I got that head cold.)

Being that this blog documents my trials and errors during my time of weight loss, hopefully this information can be helpful to some of you out there on the same journey as me. It doesn’t matter where in your journey you are, make sure you get a good night’s rest. Healthy eating and exercise will be easier to do, and you’ll feel more alert as well. I finally got 8 full hours of sleep last night, and what a difference! I still have some sleep catch-up to do, but I’m already feeling better, and the lingering aches from my past workouts are already dulled down.

Anyway, my lunch time is up, and I’ve gotta tackle a lot of issues before heading home for a 6 mile speed workout and (maybe) a BodyPump class if I’m up for it. I hope that the short remainder of your week is a good one!

Question of the Day: How many hours of sleep do you need to feel energized and prepared for the day? Has the lack thereof ever interfered with your weight loss or fitness goals and how so? I need between 7.5-9 hours to feel good. Yeah, I’m a bear.


21 thoughts on “Must. Get. Sleep.

  1. I need at least 6-8 hours of sleep to feel golden! Honestly, Lena, I don’t know how we survived college on the amount of sleep we got. We’re definitely getting ‘old’. LOL

    I read a similar study about the one you just posted. When Alan tries to keep me up, I tell him… “You’re making me fatter”. LOL 🙂 Starting to realize sleep is something you shouldn’t compromise on.

    Anyways, glad you finally got 8 hours in and feeling a lot better. Luckily the weekend is only a day away and you can catch up on some more ZzzzZzz’s.

  2. Aw, I hope you are able to get more sleep this weekend! I know it can be SO frustrating not being able to fall asleep. It helps me if I read and drink some warm (decaf!) tea before bed. I need about 7 hours to function, although I’ve been known to be completely active with very little sleep.

  3. I need my sleep too! If i don’t get about regularly get 7 hours I’m a pretty sluggish and grouchy person. If I only get 5 or 6 hours 1 night I’ll be ok, but a week straight like you’ve had and I would be running on empty too. Don’t be too hard on yourself about the low energy and weight. The more stressed you are the harder it will be to get the rest you need to be 100% again. Good luck getting a full 8 hours tonight! -Paula

  4. I hope you can catch up on your sleep soon! It’s hard when you start falling behind and then the more you think about it, the harder it is to fall asleep! At least that’s what always happens to me. I definitely need 7-9 hours a night, although 7 hours is just to make it through work. I don’t feel very refreshed unless I get 8-9. Which is why I’m in bed by 8:30 pm 🙂

  5. I am so BAD at sleep – and I know I need it – but I am so bad about making it happen. Its great that you’re aware and are trying to change your habits…..

    And dare I say — lucky you!?!?! I wish it would snow here. 😉

  6. Isn’t the snow RIDICULOUS!?!??!! Denver needs to cut that crap out!! Haha. I usually am good with 6. I’m decent with 5. A minute less than 5, and I’m awful. I know this thanks to being an extremely busy teacher the past 3 years!

  7. Can I just start by saying how jealous I am that you got snow! Winter has yet to hit the northeast and I can’t wait for it to arrive, even if I’ll be complaining about it the next day.

    I average about 6-8 hours of sleep a night, depending how early I get myself to bed. My son is my alarm clock and he usually wakes up around 8:30.

  8. If one night I don’t get enough sleep, I typically still can rock my workout the next morning. However, if cutting my sleep becomes a routine, then my workouts are shot. Weak workouts would typically make weight loss harder too…

  9. Between 7 and 8 hours. Any more or any less an I feel exhausted. The one thing I don’t like is the fact that I can’t remember the last time I’ve slept in. My body doesn’t want to allow it.

  10. Hey Lena! Just came across your blog and excited to read more! I too am 24 years old, young professional (or trying to be 🙂 haha), and have a passion for health and fitness!

    Seems like we have a lot in common because I too also need at least 8 hours a night of sleep or I am one cranky gal. I also feel like the less I sleep the more I crave bad food and not so great workout sessions..sleep is definitely a priority of mine to remain healthy and chipper 🙂

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