Why sleep is the foundation to your health…

Think of these five things: sleep, eat, train, mindset, and relationships: like a pyramid. 

5 factors pyramid.png

5 Factors of Health

Sleep, Eat, Train, Mindset, and Relationships

We know that training is key to being healthy, avoiding chronic disease, pushing off the nursing home, and kicking ass outside of the gym. As coaches we also know and work on other pieces that greatly impact how we can train in the gym and how we feel outside of it. 

 The reality is, you cannot out train shitty sleep or a crappy diet. Sleep and nutrition are the foundation which your training sits upon. If you are not paying attention to them, then your training is less like a solid block and more like a teeter totter, swaying back and forth, sometimes good, sometimes bad.

 Sleep is at the base because it impacts all the other items above it: eating training, mindset, and relationships.

 Based on the information currently available, 7- hours of sleep a night is the sweet spot for most people and anything under 7 hours is considered under slept, changing how your body functions.  


A 2010 PubMed review found that sleeping too little increases the risk of early death.

Aside from increased risk of death, you also:

1.         Crave more and eat crappier food

 When we are under slept (have less than 7 hours) your hunger hormone gets ramped up. You are also more likely to crave and choose simple sugars, processed foods, and heavy carbs (bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, etc.) when under slept. Studies suggest that some people consume up to 300 additional calories per day when not getting enough sleep. This could equate to about 10 lbs per year.

2.         Burn less body fat

After one night of less than 7 hours of sleep your body becomes insulin resistant (unable to use insulin effectively), like that of a type 2 diabetic. In as little as 4 days without sufficient sleep your body can develop precursors to diabetes, identifiable by your blood.

Being under-slept is a stress on your system. When your body is stressed it stores more food and burns less fat. Moreover, when training under slept, 70% of the weight you lose will come from your lean muscle (your fat burner) and NOT from fat. The opposite of what we are trying to achieve in the gym. #leanmachines


3.         Sacrifice conditioning

Your bodies ability to expire CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) and inhale O2 (oxygen) decreases. In real talk, you feel more out of breath then if you had a good nights sleep.

Studies suggest that your best after less than 7 hours of sleep is only 70% of what you could accomplish with sufficient sleep and your rate pf physical exhaustion by 30%.

Your best is only 70% of your true capacity and you will feel tired sooner.

 4.         Increase risk of injury

Injury risk increases as sleep deceases; your body is not able to recover as well or as quickly, stabilizer muscles are hard to recruit leading to simple movements having greater risk.  

In a nutshell, you can set yourself up for success if you prioritize getting more sleep. We know it’s not always possible to get 7 hours but becoming aware of what you are doing and learning how to change it is critical to your health. Here are a few tips to get you started.


1.         Maximize the quality of sleep we are already having

·      Try to get to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time

·      Sleep in a cool dark room

·      decrease light exposure (screen time) before bed

·      use “night shift” on your devices to decrease the amount of blue light your screens emit


2.         Slowly increase the total time spent sleeping

Start adding 10 minutes every two weeks to your sleep. If you do not think you have this time, check out your battery usage and how much time you spend on each app on your phone, you’ll find the 10 minutes.

Naps can help with your overall alertness but will not do anything to change the internal effects of being under slept.

If you have questions someone else likely does too. Write us an email, ashley@crossfitbarrie.com, with the subject line “I want to know” and ask your question. We will answer all questions with a short video and post it to the CrossFit Barrie page.

Header Image credit: Irishtimes.com