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Sports Nutrition, Muscle, Endurance, Recovery, Sexual Health, Weight Management

Sleep and Exercise

By Thane Slagowski, Vice President, Product Development & Quality for Twinlab.

I am a great believer in the power of exercise to help you sleep better; the better you sleep the more energy you will have for exercise.

You can learn a lot about energy and sleep by observing nature. I have a hyperactive puppy (a French bulldog named Yoda) who loves to chew on socks and is often caught stealing flip flops. To protect my family’s shoes and socks from doggy slobber, we take him on a walk each day. After the walk, Yoda is mellow and goes out like a light. In parallel, I doubt construction workers have a hard time falling asleep. Why not apply this same principle to your sleep and exercise routines?

Sleep can be the perfect supplement to your exercise routine. Research shows that the release of growth hormones peaks during deep sleep, while at the same time blood flow to muscles increases and your metabolic rate slows. All this is the perfect formula for the repair and growth of muscle tissue. 1

From personal experience, you’ve probably seen many of the other benefits of a good sleep routine, including mood stabilization and increased learning and memory functions. Leptin, an appetite-regulating hormone, is also directly influenced by your sleep routine. You may have a bigger appetite if you don’t get enough sleep, because leptin levels drop and increase appetite.2

Suffer from insomnia? Studies indicate that exercise—especially morning exercise—will help you sleep better.3 An hour of stretching and walking daily can help relieve many sleep problems that often stem from the stresses of regular life.

Exercise at least four hours a week and remember that any exercise is better than none, regardless of the time of day. You should note, though, that exercising right before heading to bed can lead to difficulty sleeping. It is recommended that you exercise at least three hours before going to bed, to give your body enough time to cool off. A lowered body temperature is needed for sleep onset. In order to support vigorous exercise, a positive energy balance from sleep is critical.4

So remember, to help your mind and body regenerate, reduce stress, be more alert and reach your fitness goals, get at least six to seven hours of sleep each night.

1. McManus, Mark. “How to Sleep Your Way to Big Muscles.” Retrieved December 10, 2008, from http://www.musclehack.com/how-to-sleep-your-way-to-big-muscles/
2. Plotnick, Rachel. “Diet, Exercise, Sleep! The Path to a Healthier Lifestyle.” National Sleep Association. Retrieved December 10, 2008, from http://sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-topics/diet-exercise-and-sleep
3. American Academy of Sleep Medicine (2008, June 12). Moderate Exercise Can Improve Sleep Quality Of Insomnia Patients. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 4, 2008, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080611071129.htm
4. Ibid.

Carrot-Pepper Slaw

Let the salad sit for awhile to develop the flavors. Or make it the night before to take to work with you the next day.

Fresh Fennel Salad with Capers & Lemon

Look for firm, unwrinkled fennel bulbs, with fresh-looking green fronds. If you can’t find the smaller capers (labeled “nonpareil”), you can use the bigger capers-often from Spain-but chop them up so they are not so overwhelming in the salad.

Lemon-Herb Dipping Sauce

If you don't have fresh mint, you could use fresh basil instead in this light, yogurt-based sauce.

Sautéed Winter Squash

Butternut and hubbard have the greatest amount of beta carotene of the commonly available varieties of winter squash.

Whole Wheat Walnut-Raisin Bread

Like many whole-wheat bread recipes, this one also contains all-purpose flour for a lighter texture. Let your mind go blank as you knead the dough-it’s a tried-and-true stress-buster. If you like, shape the dough into 2 small loaves rather than 1 large loaf. Note, however, that the baking time may be slightly less.

Toasted-Oat Banana Muffins

Toasted oats and walnut oil give these muffins a rich, nutty flavor without the saturated fat. These can be made in advance, frozen, and then reheated at serving time.

Chicken Cutlets with Spinach & Mozzarella

Parslied new potatoes would round out this delightful dinner.

Pan-Fried Oysters

Browned in just 2 teaspoons of oil, these delicate crusty oysters barely fit the definition of “fried.”

Cincinnati Chili Casserole

Cincinnati chili was created in 1922 by a Greek restaurateur who embellished a standard American all-meat chili by adding sweet spices, such as cinnamon and allspice. He offered his customers the chili served a variety of ways, including the now well-known “five-way” chili-served on a mound of spaghetti and topped with such things as beans, chopped onions, and shredded cheese. In this baked version of Cincinnati chili, most of the components of five-way chili are combined and cooked together in a casserole.