Sleep, exercise, and weight management are all interconnected. Regular exercise helps control circadian rhythms, or your “sleep/wake cycle.” This can help you to fall asleep more easily at night, get a better night’s rest, and be more alert during the day—all of which can improve weight management. On the flip side, major disruptions to your circadian rhythm over time can lead to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Getting enough regular, restful sleep is another key to maintaining a high level of physical performance and recovering from exercise, particularly for endurance activities. Sleep restriction decreases the total work athletes are able to perform. For example, in an endurance event such as a physical fitness test, not getting enough sleep can decrease your performance. As you get more restful sleep and are able to maintain a high level of exercise, your risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes goes down as your fitness improves.
Sleep is especially important when you’re trying to lose weight because it helps maintain your resting metabolic rate (RMR), the amount of energy you burn at rest. One of the main factors that drives your RMR is how much lean body mass you have. Limiting sleep can affect lean body mass, which would reduce your RMR. Bottom line: Getting the recommended 7–8 hours of sleep each night plays a significant role when you’re trying to lose weight –and keep it off.