And, as anyone who’s tried to go to a kickboxing class after only 5 hours of sleep knows, sleep deprivation also severely reduces your levels of physical fitness by making you more tired and weakening your reflexes. Some studies have even found that going 20 hours without sleep gave people a blood alcohol concentration of 0.1 percent—well north of the legal driving limit in the United States.
Given how important a good sleep routine is for a healthy exercise regime, luxury fitness brand Equinox partnered with UCLA researchers to see if “sleep coaching” to help people get more rest and thereby get a better workout at the gym.
The clinical research, which is the first of its kind, included 32 participants in a 12-week sleep and fitness study. Participants had to keep a very detailed sleep log, which included everything from how much they drank to how many times they got up to use the bathroom, and completed lengthy interviews with researchers on their sleep habits. Researchers then compared this data with the metabolic rate of their participants, and suggested small lifestyle changes that could help improve their sleep. Some of the changes included cutting down on alcohol, turning off all electronics after 10 pm, investing in good bedding, keeping the room cold, and going to bed at the same time every night.
The results of the study were two-fold. Firstly, it measured just how much of an impact sleep has on our ability to exercise. Secondly, it proved that sleep coaching can really work. The metabolic threshold of those in the sleep coaching group improved by 29.8 percent, as compared to 16.2 percent in the control group. Those in the sleep coaching group also saw a 17.2 percent decrease in body fat, versus only 7.1 percent in the control group. Finally, the sleep coaching group enjoyed nearly twice as much of an increase in aerobic performance, as well as a boost in maximum oxygen uptake that enabled them to work out harder and burn more calories.
“The results of our trial are unequivocal,” Jennifer Martin, clinical phycologist, Associate Adjunct Professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA and member of the Equinox Health Advisory Board, said in a statement. “Sleep has been the missing part of the health and wellness conversation for decades and we’re proud to shed light on a topic that many people can benefit from.”
Given the success of the study, Equinox is now rolling out sleep coaching as one of the specialties available to those with personal trainers, as well as offering a standalone sleep-coaching service at various locations.
But if you aren’t a member of the gym (which carries a hefty price tag), you can get some great advice from experts with our 70 Tips For Your Best Sleep Ever. And if you’re looking to adopt a healthy sleep regime for life, why not give clean sleeping a try?
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