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5 reasons why more sleep & less exercise can boost your fitness

5 reasons why more sleep & less exercise can boost your fitness

When struggling to achieve your fitness goals, the consensus is often to workout more, eat less, and workout even more.

Instead of trying to add even more workouts into your routine or deprive yourself of more calories, start looking at prioritising your sleep.

Quality, restorative sleep is at the heart of achieving all long-term fitness goals.

Here are 5 reasons why sleep MUST be your top priority to get the best results from your fitness programme.


A common misconception is that all the changes you achieve happen while you’re exercising. In fact, it’s what you do between workouts that determines the success of your exercise programme overall.

It’s true that we exercise to improve endurance, cardiovascular fitness, as well as build lean muscle mass. But without quality sleep these benefits are undermined.

Besides the restorative effects of sleep (i.e.muscle recovery, energy conservation), the body releases growth hormone during sleep. When we are children, this hormone helps us grow. Once we are grown adults, growth hormone helps us build lean muscle

So by ensuring you’re getting quality sleep, you’re giving your body the opportunity to achieve maximum benefits from the hard work you’ve put in during your gym sessions.


One of the most important elements of getting the most out of your workouts is exercising consistently. 

But when we attempt to workout in a tired state, the resulting lack of motivation can lead to a break in routine. Sometimes to the point where that routine stops outright.

According to one study participants were less likely to complete a workout when poorly rested. And as the length of their sleep decreased, the shorter the workouts became.

So it isn’t just the specific workout you have to worry about when it comes to poor sleep. It’s the impact the lack of motivation can have on your overall fitness regime.


In order to achieve results in your gym sessions, you first need to show up. But by crossing the threshold of your gym in a less-than-rested state, you’re already starting your workout one step behind.

While studies have shown you lose actual performance due to poor sleep, it’s the perception of the effort that’s the bigger problem. In short, when we’re tired things seem so much harder than they actually are. It’s this shift in perceived effort that undercuts our ability to train to our full potential when tired.


Nutrition plays a large part in achieving health and fitness goals. Without quality sleep our nutrition decisions are also challenged .

When we’re tired, we often seek out sugar as an immediate pick-me-up. And because this energy boost is short-lived, we’re soon seeking sugar out again. 

It’s this vicious cycle of trying to keep our energy levels propped up that leads to weight gain, feeling lethargic and mood swings. All stemming from the root of poor sleep.

When it comes to nutrition, the primary benefit of quality sleep is we feel more in control of our food choices, as opposed to allowing cravings to control our decisions.


While quality sleep makes exercise ‘seem easier’, it also improves your performance while exercising.

According to a 2014 study at the University of Technology Sydney, a wide variety of different metrics were negatively affected by sleep deprivation. These metrics included grip strength, time to exhaustion, distance ran, etc. 

It may be a subtle shortcoming (i.e. your grip strength is weaker) or it may be a more pronounced effect (i.e. you can’t run as far as the last time you trained while rested). By trying to exercise without quality sleep, you’ll be selling your training time short. Regardless of what your goal or training regime is. 

So when you think about what you can do to help improve your results, give a serious nod to how well you’re currently sleeping. 

By keeping sleep quality at the top of your priority list, the rest of your training regime will work that much better.

We hope you found these 5 reasons why more sleep & less exercise can boost your fitness useful.


James Staring is a personal trainer based in Clapham, London. His methods have featured in publications such as Your Fitness, Hello, Healthy, Daily Mail, Closer, and many more. After giving up smoking and entering the fitness industry in 2009, James has focused on his passion to help others transform their health and fitness. However, James is convinced that most people struggle so much more than they need to in an effort to improve their fitness. Through his company, Fit to Last, which he runs with his partner, Ali Page – James has helped hundreds of men and women make small, adjustments in their daily habits to transform their fitness and to love how they look and feel