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50 Top Wellness Influencers Share How They Leverage Sleep To Optimize Their Health

50 Top Wellness Influencers Share How They Leverage Sleep To Optimize Their Health

We all know sleep is a crucial part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. But here’s the thing:

Most of us don’t get enough sleep.

It’s simple: if you’re not giving your body the time to recover energy, repair muscle, and do all of the other really important things that happen when you’re asleep, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice.

So how can you make sure you’re incorporating sleep into your healthy lifestyle?

We sought out answers to that exact question from 50 of the top wellness influencers. And the tips they provide are total game-changers.

Keep reading to find out what they say.

How Can Sleep Improve Your Fitness Results?

woman stretches her arms overhead after waking up

Optimizes Your Physical And Mental Health

“Taking your sleep seriously is one of the best things you can do to optimize your physical and mental health. In fact, there are some incredibly important functions that take place during sleep including muscle regeneration, restock of energy reserves, emotional regulation, toxin removal, and memory and learning consolidation. There is also evidence to support that sleep supports a healthy immune system and increases performance in sport and training."

- Dr. Kianoush Missaghi, Freeletics

Boosts Results From Exercise

"What sleep does to your body will boost the results from every single hour of exercise. During sleep your muscle tissue will be restored, and your HRV will increase. It’s simply the easiest hack."

- Matteo Franceschetti, Eight Sleep

Improves Muscle Hypertrophy

"Sleeping has a profound impact on recovery and is a factor which is often overlooked when considering the best approach to muscle hypertrophy. Research suggests that the body is able to: restore organs, bones, and tissue; replenish immune cells, and circulate human growth hormone. In fact, 60% to 70% of daily human growth hormone secretion occurs during the early stages of sleep, which is typically when the deepest sleep cycles occur."

- Jacky Anderson, Sport Fitness Advisor

Decreases Daytime Fatigue And Increases Stamina

“A Stanford University study found that college football players who tried to sleep at least 10 hours a night for seven to eight weeks improved their average sprint time and had less daytime fatigue and more stamina. The results of this study reflect previous findings seen in tennis players and swimmers."

- Alyssa Sparacino, Health Magazine

Helps You Stay Motivated During Workouts

"Sleeping less than the minimum six hours will lead you to cut short your workouts if you can even get yourself motivated to go to the gym in the first place. And get this – once you begin skimping on your workouts, you’ll be in a cycle of impaired sleep as well.”

- Dr. Michael Mantell, Total Gym Pulse

Keeps You Happier, Stronger, And Smarter

"I challenge you to make sleep your number one priority for one week. Put aside any preconceptions you might have about sleep—particularly if you’re that type-A person who has a number of hot irons in the fire (career, family, athletics, etc) and cuts back on sleep to make time for more—and make getting a long, deep night of sleep your number one goal of each day for seven days, and see what happens. This is what I want to happen and expect to happen: That you’ll be happier, healthier, faster, stronger, and smarter."

- Dr. Kirk Parsley, Robb Wolf

Gives Your Body Time For Recovery And Growth

“The longer and better you sleep, the more time your body has for recovery and growth. So you see, your muscles do grow in your sleep."

- Tina Sturm-Ornezeder, adidas Runtastic

Allows Your Mind To Refresh

“Just by sleeping your 7-9 hours a night, you are allowing your mind to refresh and your body to rest, allowing you to wake up feeling healthy and aware."

- Lisa Gulley, Workout Mommy

Improves Your Chances For Weight Loss

"Without the proper amount of sleep, the chemicals that send signals to your brain telling it you are full after eating a meal will not be balanced…When this happens, nighttime snacking is usually involved, so sleep is essential when it comes to weight loss."

- Tess Dinapoli, The Art of Healthy Living

Acts As Your Foundation For Recovery

"Sleep is the foundation of recovery…You cannot out-train or out eat poor sleep habits coupled with a lifestyle of constant physical and emotional stress. These place a heavy strain on the CNS (Central Nervous System) over extended periods of time."

- Kevin Masson, Dr. John Rusin Blog

Helps You Grow

"You don’t grow in the gym. You grow while you recover…While a great many of us build our schedules around workouts, fewer of us offer the same deference to our sleep."

- Justin Grinnell, Muscle and Fitness

Increases Your Melatonin Production

"Working out balances your hormones and produces chemicals that are critical to how you sleep. The biggest of these is Melatonin. Melatonin is a sleep chemical that your body creates naturally to help you sleep. When you exercise not only does it help your body produce this chemical, but it helps your body produce it at the right time.”

- Bre Brimhall, Vasa Fitness

Causes Your Body Temperature To Rise

“Physical exercise causes our body temperature to rise, which can help create peace in our minds and calm the chaos many of us live with. This has the excellent side effect of letting you fall asleep quicker."

- Sharath Narayan, Fitso Blog

What Happens When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep?

tired man takes a break while at the gym

You'll Miss A Vital Part Of Maintaining Health

“According to the CDC and numerous studies, not getting enough sleep is associated with a number of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression. Together, these four health conditions prove a powerful case that sleep isn’t just beneficial, it’s vital."

- Jennifer Walters, Fit Bottomed Girls

Your Body Won't Get What It Needs Done

"It makes sense that if the body is chronically under-rested, these valuable and necessary processes are disrupted. The body then cannot adequately repair tissues and blood vessels, produce and release hormones efficiently, or remove waste.”

- Dr. Erin Nitschke, Ace Healthy Living

You Might Throw Your Hormones Off

“Researchers from the University of Chicago found that sleep loss causes decreased glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity (those processes that cause your body to shuttle nutrients into fat cells instead of muscle cells) as well as elevated levels of ghrelin—the hunger hormone—and cortisol, the stress hormone that encourages your body to store fat.”

- Dr. Joel Seedman, Advanced Human Performance

You'll Risk Decreasing Your Testosterone Levels

"Sleep deprivation will not only sap energy from your lifts, it will negatively impact you on a hormonal level by decreasing the release of testosterone (1) and increasing cortisol (2), an especially nasty combo when trying to gain strength, muscle mass, or lose body fat and even worse for males interested in having sex past the age of 35.”

- Tony Gentilcore, Tony Gentilcore

Your Optimum Body Temperature Will Be Thrown Out Of Whack

“When you lack sleep, this can affect your core temperature, which in turn causes reduced energy expenditure and even more fatigue."

- Jeff Mann, Roman Fitness Systems

You Can Say Hello To Increased Inflammation

"When you are trying to build muscle, not getting enough sleep is destructive because you are depriving your body of the rest that it needs to be able to recover, repair, and grow."

- Dan Fries, Corpina Nootropics

Your Efforts Quickly Become Severely Limited

"Studies show that restricting sleep to 5 hours per night for just one week can lower testosterone by 10-15%. And, not only does it limit your testosterone production, but sleep restriction has also been shown to cause a similar reduction in Insulin-like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1)… If these hormones are comprised, then it doesn’t matter what you do at the gym, your ability to build muscle will be severely limited.”

- David de las Morenas, How To Beast

You'll Feel Tired And Hungry More Often

"A study by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center shows that a single night of sleep deprivation can cause as much insulin resistance as six months on a high-fat diet. This leaves you feeling tired and hungry more often than you should.”

- Nahida S., HealthifyMe

You'll Snack More Than You Should

"In addition to more junk food cravings, a lack of sleep could also cause you to snack more in general, therefore leading to a higher calorie intake the next day. This could be problematic if you’re looking to lose weight by cutting down on calories.”

- McKel Kooienga, Nutrition Stripped

You Can Say Goodbye To Your Motivation

“If you don’t get enough sleep, you will fail at changing habits; and if you have a lack of sleep, your motivation will drop tremendously...If you find yourself lacking motivation or having trouble changing any habits, check your sleep levels.”

- Leo Babauta, Zen Habits

You'll Become More Vulnerable To Getting Sick

"Studies have shown that people who sleep less than six hours a night are at a greater risk of catching the common cold than people who sleep at least seven hours."

- Brittany Risher, myfitnesspal

You're More Likely To Overindulge

“There is evidence that lack of sleep enhances areas of the brain associated with the drive to consume food. The effect of sleep on weight loss here is to moderate how much we eat."

- Hannah Kemish, Shredify

You'll Undermine Any Training Progress

"When it comes to sleep, poor quality, short duration, and poor efficiency all undermine training progress and athletic performance."

- Chris Carmichael, CTS

Your Mental Health Will Be Put At Risk

"One impact that is often overlooked is sleep’s effect on mental health. Sleep deprivation can cause serious mental health problems which can cause a huge toll on your life if not effectively addressed."

- Dennis Relojo-Howell, Psychreg

How Can I Make Sure I’m Getting Enough Sleep?

Eat A Light Dinner

“Evening meals often consist of a light serving of easily digestible, cooked vegetables. When I am away at a yoga retreat and eating this way, I sleep like a baby."

- Bethany Eanes, Breaking Muscle

Stick To A Consistent Bedtime

"Sticking to a bedtime is so key. I consistently get less REM and deep sleep than recommended…but those numbers were always higher on nights when I went to bed before 11:30.”

- Emma Loewe, mindbodygreen

Incorporate A Yoga Practice

"Yoga has been a big part of my sleep getting better, as with other parts of my life. On days when I skip yoga, I have more difficulties falling asleep. Why? Because I'm simply not tired enough, my body needs to move.”

- Erin Motz, Bad Yogi

Focus On Your Breath

"[Spiraling thoughts] can prevent us from getting the quality shut-eye we so badly need in order to maintain optimum health. Thankfully, strategies like breathwork for sleep can help put the swirling thoughts in your mind to sleep so you can doze off peacefully...Put both hands on your belly and slowly close your eyes. Let your naval inflate as you inhale and shrink as you exhale. As you inhale, count three seconds, and then as you exhale, count six seconds. Do this breathwork for sleep exercise for about five minutes, and you’ll be dozing off in no time."

- Kayla Hui, Well + Good

Don't Over-Hydrate

"Good hydration is an essential component of your health, but too much drinking before you sleep can severely disrupt a restful night of sleep, and even cause a disorder known as nocturia.”

- Adam Bornstein, Born Fitness

Never Go To Bed Hungry

"Don’t go to bed hungry…If you’re hungry your body just won’t let you get that quality rest it deserves. This isn’t a free pass to an all-you-can-eat. Just a light meal which helps you feel satiated is cool.”

- Chad Stan, Spot Me Bro

Stay Away From Screens At Night

“The LED and OLED screens used for most modern devices emit a type of light known as “blue light.” This bright, blue light tells your body it’s still daytime, which encourages your body to suppress melatonin production. Melatonin is the hormone that tells your brain it’s time to sleep. Thus, more blue light = less melatonin = a harder time falling asleep."

- Barney Moore, Legion Athletics

Take A Hot Bath

“Stepping out of a warm shower or bath into a naturally cooler bedroom causes a drop in your body temperature. This drop in temperature is shown to naturally trigger feelings of sleepiness because it slows down metabolic functions.”

- Chris Freytag, Get Healthy U

Avoid Heavy Protein Before Bed

“You’ll probably want to avoid having whey protein shakes right before bed, especially on an empty stomach. In that case, the protein can be digested so quickly that it interferes with our ability to produce melatonin."

- Shane Duquette, Outlift

Exercise Earlier In The Day

“Make sure you’re not exercising very close to bedtime, as exercise is stimulating and can keep you from falling asleep. Try moving your workout to the morning or midday if you’re feeling overly wired at night.”

- Laura Schoenfeld, Girls Gone Strong

Exercise Regularly

“Studies have shown that exercising three to four times each week can improve your sleep more effectively than supplements. It was also found that high-intensity workouts where you exert yourself more can improve sleep."

- Kayla Itsines, Kayla Itsines

Use The Sun

“Time outside in the sunlight affects our circadian rhythm and can help our bodies to recognize that when the sun is up, we’re up, and when it’s down, we should be crashed. It’s helpful to open the blinds or curtains as soon as you’re awake to let natural sunlight in, and start to turn down lights and stimuli as it gets later."

- Gina Harney, The Fitnessista

Try Resistance Band Training

“Resistance band training, especially when performed later in the evening, can help reduce your overall stress levels and reverse some of these key indicators. You’ll take deeper breaths, your blood pressure drops, your metabolism stabilizes, and your cortisol levels decrease. All of these factors have the effect of promoting drowsiness and contribute to a deeper and more relaxed sleep."

- Jenn Mitchell, The Comeback Momma

Wake Up Naturally

“If you need to wake up to an alarm, you’re not sleeping long enough. Your goal should be to wake up naturally every morning, with an alarm reserved for rare occasions when you NEED to be up earlier or go to sleep later than normal – this should be the exception, not the rule."

- Greg Nuckols, Stronger By Science

Find Your Ideal Sleep Schedule

“Focusing on doing what it takes to get a solid 7 hours nightly (I’d say 8, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves) – whether that means going to bed earlier, waking up later (if possible), or a combination of both will make a monumental difference to your rate of change from a muscle development and fat loss perspective, and also from a performance perspective, strength and energy-wise."

- Lee Boyce, Lee Boyce

Avoid Intensive Workouts At Night

“As little as fifteen minutes of walking, biking, or other cardio exercises can have a significant effect on one’s sleep quality. It is recommended to avoid intensive or strenuous workouts just before bedtime."

- Amy Occhipinti, AFPA Fitness Blog

Only Use Your Bedroom For Sleep

Your bedroom should be a place just for sleep to convince your brain to rest at appropriate hours. Using your bedroom for anything else is considered poor sleep hygiene and can affect the quality of your sleep drastically."

- Maryam Zahid, ActiveMan

Find Your Right Time To Exercise

"While exercise at all times of day is generally considered good for sleep, exercising at the right time can be even better. If the evening is your optimal exercise window, try working out at least 2 hours before bed; this gives your brain and body time to wind down."

- Meghan Crowley, Move It Monday

Practice Sleep Hygiene

“Avoid electronics and digital screens 1-2 hours before bed, keep your room cool and consider blackout curtains (or a comfortable eye mask!), steer clear of caffeinated beverages in the afternoon, and try to stick to a regular sleep schedule, even on weekends."

- Elisa Snyder, Jenny Craig

Embrace Your Own Internal Clock

“You hear that we need 8 hours of sleep per night, but we want to stress that you need to find what works best for you. Though you feel guilty sleeping until 7 am while your mentor posts 4:30 am wake-up pictures, just know that you need to find your own sleep schedule. We all are on different internal clocks and our body will react differently. Find the routine that helps you be as productive as possible – this will take some trial and error – and you will be able to optimize your fitness and lifestyle!"

- Sara Westgreen, DIY Active

Establish A Wake-Up Routine

I have a fantastic morning ritual where I launch into a challenging sequence of mobility, flexibility, core and leg strengthening exercises as soon as I wake up every single day.

- Brad Kearns, Two Meals A Day

End Your Day With Gratitude

"End each day with positivity/gratitude. When I read something positive before bed and/or think about what I’m grateful for when I hit the pillow, I fall asleep faster and sleep consistently better.”

- Scott Christ, Pure Food Company

Ask For Help

"If you’ve tried everything you can on your own, and you’re still struggling to sleep properly, it may be time to see your doctor. You may need to use a prescription sleep aid for a while to break the cycle; or you could have a bigger issue like sleep apnea, depression, or anxiety that you need professional medical help to resolve."

- Cathy, Avocadu

And there you have it!

50 game-changing tips from top wellness influencers on how sleep improves fitness, what happens to your workout progress when you skip rest, and how to incorporate regular sleep into your lifestyle.