The Interplay Between Sleep & Physical Activity

It is generally known that sufficient sleep and regular exercise is considered healthy. The fact that the two influence one another is less known. This article will help clarify the interplay between sleep and physical activity and how to get the most out of both.

Sufficient sleep is essential for a healthy state in humans. A minimum of seven hours of sleep is required each night. The regeneration value of sleep is dependant on both duration and intensity. The longer and more intensive the slow-wave sleep phase is the better. During this phase growth hormones responsible for the growth of muscles, skin and hair are released. It also has a positive effect on the immune system, decreasing the susceptibility to infection.

The most effective physical performance is achieved when the body has had an adequate amount of sleep. Muscles are able to regenerate and grow. Additionally the "replay theory" states that new knowledge and experiences are reinforced and stored while sleeping. For instance when one takes up a new sporting activity, these movements are only effectively "learned" when asleep.

Physical activity, especially endurance sports, is ideal for destressing. Regular activity is also effective against sleeping disorders, which in turn increases the quality of sleep. However, do not exert the body, as this could lead to a decrease in the quality of sleep and regeneration. Physical activity positively contributes to concentration and increases the mood. 

People who exercise too little have a poor quality of sleep often suffer from fatigue during the day or even experience side effects such as a depressive mood and anxiety.

It is recommended to exercise earlier during the day because the blood circulation is stimulated, which means that falling asleep could be problematic.

It is advisable to find the middle ground between sufficient sleep and physical activity.