2

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How should you adjust diet/exercise if you don't get enough sleep?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created April 13, 2012 at 3:27 AM

I know it's advised to get 8-9 hours of sleep but as a college student, I find myself getting about 6 hours of sleep on average and some nights it's as little as 4. Over the weekend, I can get about 8-9 and though I'd like to get 10-11, nowadays, I find it hard to sleep in (even after a night out).
Is eating right and doing exercise pointless if you don't get enough sleep? Should you eat more/exercise less on days where you don't sleep enough?

Bfa1c9eacfc94a1b62f3a39b574480c6

(3700)

on April 21, 2012
at 12:04 AM

Agreed with Sunny Beaches. It also worked for me in college, was never a crammer. Congrats on the Magna Cum Laude!

Medium avatar

(10663)

on April 13, 2012
at 07:42 PM

I have no problems falling asleep; it's getting enough sleep that's the problem. Tim, have any links to those studies on how sleeping too much can be detrimental?

Medium avatar

(10663)

on April 13, 2012
at 07:41 PM

Having taken a neurobiology class, I know how crucial sleep is in memory. I've pulled more all-nighters than I thought possible and I can say I've benefited form them. It's the cramming that screws me up. After all, I am graduating Magna Cum Laude next month :)

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on April 13, 2012
at 05:18 PM

But the problem is that to get the benefits of exercise you have to sleep. If you aren't getting the sleep it could be a net loss in health.

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on April 13, 2012
at 01:27 PM

Sunny beaches is right...not sleeping enough will have bad effects on memory (and thus grades) http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/23/health/23memo.html?_r=2. This points to studies showing that sleep is important for consolidating what it is you're working so hard to study. THe worst thing you can do for your GPA is pull an all-nighter.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on April 13, 2012
at 12:50 PM

+1 for actually answering the question.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 13, 2012
at 08:56 AM

Good post, Tim. April, don't worry about it. You are probably getting about the right amount of sleep that you need. Don't allow yourself to be too concerned about it because the stress of giving it a lot of thought would actually make matters worse.

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on April 13, 2012
at 05:12 AM

I know you think studying takes precedence, but sleep helps you form long-term memories/your brain retain knowledge. So think of sleep as important for you to do well in school.

Medium avatar

(10663)

on April 13, 2012
at 04:47 AM

Yes I have blackout curtains, no TV in my room, but I do read in bed because it helps me fall asleep. As far as making sure I have enough time to sleep, studying has taken precedence over sleep for the last 4 years. I know you were trying to be helpful, but you didn't answer my question at all.

E91fd339d760ed76cc72570a679ebf5a

(2369)

on April 13, 2012
at 04:31 AM

I'm curious about this as the mother of a newborn! There's really no practical way to avoid sustained sleep deprivation when caring for and breastfeeding a little baby and there's weight to lose and fitness to regain on top of it...

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7 Answers

5
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 13, 2012
at 03:46 AM

Life is about managing stress. I don't know how much you work out but for me I don't bother lifting heavy in weeks where I sleep badly, it just doesn't seem to help. Same goes for hardcore sprints. If it were me and I was going to change my habits for sleep deprivation I'd -

I'd keep carbs on the low-side to avoid gaining.

I'd do maybe 1-2 days at the gym with very low volume. I'd maybe do one lifting day and 1 sprint day

or preferably

I'd just go hiking a couple of times a week to get some sun and some air and blow off some stress.

There is a threshold where exercise makes you sleep better Vs. keeping you up at night. Maybe drop down to 0 workouts and then add them back slowly and see where the balance point is.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on April 13, 2012
at 12:50 PM

+1 for actually answering the question.

2
A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on April 13, 2012
at 01:41 PM

First, I can't really say what you should do for exercise or eating when you are sleep deprived, but I like LikesLardinMayo's answer. Some thoughts, with studies for your perusal:

(Sleep may beat the extra studying...)

Neurocognitive Consequences of Sleep Deprivation https://www.thieme-connect.com/ejournals/abstract/sin/doi/10.1055/s-2005-867080
Deficits in daytime performance due to sleep loss are experienced universally and associated with a significant social, financial, and human cost. Microsleeps, sleep attacks, and lapses in cognition increase with sleep loss as a function of state instability. Sleep deprivation studies repeatedly show a variable (negative) impact on mood, cognitive performance, and motor function due to an increasing sleep propensity and destabilization of the wake state. Specific neurocognitive domains including executive attention, working memory, and divergent higher cognitive functions are particularly vulnerable to sleep loss. In humans, functional metabolic and neurophysiological studies demonstrate that neural systems involved in executive function (i.e., prefrontal cortex) are more susceptible to sleep deprivation in some individuals than others. Recent chronic partial sleep deprivation experiments, which more closely replicate sleep loss in society, demonstrate that profound neurocognitive deficits accumulate over time in the face of subjective adaptation to the sensation of sleepiness. Sleep deprivation associated with disease-related sleep fragmentation (i.e., sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome) also results in neurocognitive performance decrements similar to those seen in sleep restriction studies. Performance deficits associated with sleep disorders are often viewed as a simple function of disease severity; however, recent experiments suggest that individual vulnerability to sleep loss may play a more critical role than previously thought.

(Sleep is linked to overeating and weight gain)

The metabolic consequences of sleep deprivation
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1087079207000202

"The prevalence of diabetes and obesity is increasing at an alarming rate worldwide, and the causes of this pandemic are not fully understood. Chronic sleep curtailment is a behavior that has developed over the past 2???3 decades. Laboratory and epidemiological studies suggest that sleep loss may play a role in the increased prevalence of diabetes and/or obesity. Current data suggest the relationship between sleep restriction, weight gain and diabetes risk may involve at least three pathways: (1) alterations in glucose metabolism; (2) upregulation of appetite; and (3) decreased energy expenditure. The present article reviews the current evidence in support of these three mechanisms that might link short sleep and increased obesity and diabetes risk."

Sleep Curtailment in Healthy Young Men Is Associated with Decreased Leptin Levels, Elevated Ghrelin Levels, and Increased Hunger and Appetite
http://www.annals.org/content/141/11/846.short

Systemic bacterial invasion induced by sleep deprivation http://ajpregu.physiology.org/content/278/4/R905.short
(Okay, that was a rat study, but stil... bacterial invasion is bad, right?)

Short Sleep Duration and Weight Gain: A Systematic Review http://www.nature.com/oby/journal/v16/n3/abs/oby2007118a.html

(Interesting that sleep deprivation is becoming more widespread/chronic - the word "pandemic" is used)

Sleep loss results in an elevation of cortisol levels the next evening. http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/1997-38275-003
(I think Dr. Kruse mentioned this ancient pathway...) ;)

Effect of sleep deprivation on surgeons' dexterity on laparoscopy simulator http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(98)00034-8/fulltext (Speaking of surgeons... Okay, maybe I jumped the shark there.)

Altered brain response to verbal learning following sleep deprivation http://doug06.free.fr/DIU%20Sommeil/Mazza/403655a0.pdf

Okay, maybe you are sleep deprived at 4-6 hours per night, maybe not. What do I know? But if you don't feel fully rested, you could try my strategy for when I'm tired. I take a nap. Usually lasts 20-30 minutes. My cats are really good at this. It's quite refreshing.

1
E18a061715e85e181d7402bd1cc84e90

on April 13, 2012
at 03:59 AM

sleep is 1/3 of the equation (along with diet and exercise) so rather than trying to figure out a way of side-stepping the issue of sleep, you need to find ways to get the sleep you need. Have you darkened your room properly? Do you do things in your bed besides sleep and be romantic (like study or watch tv)? If so, stop. Are you budgeting enough time for sleep? You need to schedule it, just like you set aside time for your workouts. Alcohol actually lowers the quality of our sleep, btw, so using a night out as a way to sleep in is not a good plan.

Medium avatar

(10663)

on April 13, 2012
at 04:47 AM

Yes I have blackout curtains, no TV in my room, but I do read in bed because it helps me fall asleep. As far as making sure I have enough time to sleep, studying has taken precedence over sleep for the last 4 years. I know you were trying to be helpful, but you didn't answer my question at all.

Medium avatar

(10663)

on April 13, 2012
at 07:41 PM

Having taken a neurobiology class, I know how crucial sleep is in memory. I've pulled more all-nighters than I thought possible and I can say I've benefited form them. It's the cramming that screws me up. After all, I am graduating Magna Cum Laude next month :)

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on April 13, 2012
at 01:27 PM

Sunny beaches is right...not sleeping enough will have bad effects on memory (and thus grades) http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/23/health/23memo.html?_r=2. This points to studies showing that sleep is important for consolidating what it is you're working so hard to study. THe worst thing you can do for your GPA is pull an all-nighter.

78cb3c4f70de5db2adb52b6b9671894b

(5519)

on April 13, 2012
at 05:12 AM

I know you think studying takes precedence, but sleep helps you form long-term memories/your brain retain knowledge. So think of sleep as important for you to do well in school.

Bfa1c9eacfc94a1b62f3a39b574480c6

(3700)

on April 21, 2012
at 12:04 AM

Agreed with Sunny Beaches. It also worked for me in college, was never a crammer. Congrats on the Magna Cum Laude!

0
A7c1857ce53fb11a9351d05718c7070d

(283)

on July 31, 2013
at 04:50 PM

Like the above comments say, you need to prioritize sleep. It is so important for physical and cognitive functioning and I wrote a post about it actually;

http://www.thebarefootgolfer.com/2013/05/09/sleeping-your-way-to-clarity/

However, for those times when you really can't get enough sleep, meditation has been shown to reduce daily sleep requirements. This actually spurred me to write about meditation and start trying it out myself. It has many benefits other than just reducing sleep requirements.

http://www.thebarefootgolfer.com/2013/06/05/meditation-part-1-the-way-to-better-health/ http://www.thebarefootgolfer.com/2013/06/14/meditation-part-2-a-beginners-guide-by-a-beginner/

I hope the above is helpful for you, but in the end, prioritizing sleep will help with your overall performance, physically, emotionally, socially, and academically.

0
9dcff15991cdcd1e3c9e5773e0c00adb

on July 31, 2013
at 02:43 PM

Well, I'll answer the question because no body else actually did. I'm not sure how old this is though but an answer couldn't hurt.

Eat, you should eat allot more. People burn about 400 calories just by sleeping so really you need to double that number to maintain your energy level without sleeping so you don't have awful fatiguebut you also need tto double that to increase your energy levels to proper functionally. So really if you eat 200 calories a day and burn off 300 calories in an 8 hour sleeptime yyou should eat an extra 500-600 calories daily. So that would be 2600 ish MINUS exercis . You would need to eat even more with exercise but at the levels of your sleep I wouldn'tssuggest even exercising because of how hard it will be to keep up your energy already. I've got a masters degree in Medical Science and I'm also a physical trainer. Good luck, but if it's possible I really would suggest trying to get more sleep. If it's a matter of falling asleep then I 100% recommend Melatonin . It's in a small chewable capsule. I took it all through childhood and it would give me a solid 8-10 hours sleep in a 5 MG tablet. If it's just a busy life style then I can see how it might be tricky. But take care of yourself. It's hard to function this way. I do suggest really timing out your studies nd getting proper minimum of 7 hours of sleep. I don't admire your determination in your school work. Good luck! -Mark

YOU can look up a calculator of how many calories you burn during sleep. As can you with your daily calorie recommendation.

0
31eaa6071db25e2c7598fa299cdc42a6

on April 13, 2012
at 08:37 AM

A few things. Firstly, the eight hours is a recommended length but it's more of a guideline. Some studies have shown that having that much sleep can, in fact, be detrimental and there is a lot of evidence to suggest that you need more or less sleep at different times of your life depending how your body changes. What is more important is the quality of the sleep that you do have. This can be difficult, particularly if you have a lot of things on your mind. Good regular exercise and a healthy diet can contribute to how well you sleep during those hours of sleep that you do get. Try to relax before you go to bed and find a natural way to unwind. Be as comfortable as you can be and don't fight against the sleep. Getting all of the thoughts of the day out of your head is not easy, but the better you prepare yourself for the night the better sleep you will get.

Medium avatar

(10663)

on April 13, 2012
at 07:42 PM

I have no problems falling asleep; it's getting enough sleep that's the problem. Tim, have any links to those studies on how sleeping too much can be detrimental?

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 13, 2012
at 08:56 AM

Good post, Tim. April, don't worry about it. You are probably getting about the right amount of sleep that you need. Don't allow yourself to be too concerned about it because the stress of giving it a lot of thought would actually make matters worse.

0
1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on April 13, 2012
at 03:42 AM

Exercise is important so go ahead and exercise. However keep your intense sessions below 45 mins. So you could go for a walk 5 times a week for 30 min (low intensity and would not count against the 45 min limit) and then lift weights. Or you could do a body weight exercise routine in place of lifting.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on April 13, 2012
at 05:18 PM

But the problem is that to get the benefits of exercise you have to sleep. If you aren't getting the sleep it could be a net loss in health.

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