Exercise and Sleeping Patterns: How They Affect Your Health

Written by: Holly Smith, M.D.,

B.S. - Dietetics, NASM-PES Certified Trainer

Writer, The Fit Mother Project

Written by: Holly Smith, M.D.,

B.S. - Dietetics, NASM-PES Certified Trainer

Writer, The Fit Mother Project

exercise and sleeping patterns

When most women think about fitness, they usually just focus on diet. Something that often goes overlooked is their exercise and sleeping patterns.

Nothing is more revitalizing than a good night's sleep.

Waking up recharged and re-energized gets you ready to take on the day — and your workouts — with your best possible effort.

Which is why it’s so important to make sleep a priority in your life.

When people think about improving their health, they often look to new diet trends, fancy equipment, or expensive supplements.

But if you are getting an adequate amount of sleep you can enhance your fitness without spending any extra money.

Let look deeper at exercise and sleeping patterns and how they affect your health.

If you’ve never tried guided sleep meditation, now’s the time especially if you’re isolated, stressed, anxious, or overweight.

Sleep and Fitness

Sleep affects our bodies and our minds in so many ways.

It plays a role in our physical, mental, and emotional well being.

For example, let’s say you are trying to lose weight or improve your fitness. Adequate sleep is essential to reach these goals.

Research shows that sleep deprivation can alter hormone levels that impact hunger and metabolism and increase abdominal fat.

This, in turn, can have a negative effect on your overall health.

If you don’t get enough sleep this can slow fat loss even if you are following a good nutrition and fitness plan.

So even if you are doing everything right with your diet and workout plans, you can sabotage this with poor sleep habits.

Adequate sleep is also important to prevent chronic health problems.

For example, if you are getting less than 7 hours of sleep you are putting yourself at a higher risk for health issues like high blood pressure.

Studies also show that proper sleep and recovery are necessary to keep your body healthy and immune system functioning at its highest level.

This is even more important during the current COVID pandemic and with the flu season now upon us as well.

Yes, sleep is just as important as diet and exercise when it comes to your health!

Learn how to improve your sleeping habits, helping you to wake up feeling well-rested in the morning.

The Best Time to Exercise

There has been a lot of discussion about the benefits of morning versus evening exercise.

The best time for a workout is very individualized and really depends on personal preference.

Many people feel more energized when they first wake up and respond better to morning exercise.

Others prefer to wind down the day with a workout at night.

There used to be thought that evening exercise can disturb sleep patterns.

While this may be true in some people, recent research has shown that in general evening exercise is not associated with worse sleep.

This same study also showed that morning exercisers had the most favorable sleep outcomes, including a greater likelihood of reporting good sleep quality and a lower likelihood of waking unrefreshed.

Sleep and Eating Patterns

Back when we were hunters and gatherers, our activity and eating patterns were linked to cycles of feasts and famines.

During these natural cycles, our bodies adapted to store and utilize fat stores efficiently.

There was also the selection of genes and traits to support a “physical activity cycle.”

However, now people lead much different lives.

We no longer have to hunt for our food. People have easy access to high calorie foods.

On top of this, many people have desk jobs with low levels of physical activity and prolonged periods of sitting.

When you combine this with inadequate sleep, this disrupts the normal circadian rhythm, which leads to poor health and decreased levels of fitness.

Luckily, there are ways to overcome this with proper diet, activity, and also by syncing the timing of your meals with sleep and exercise.

Research shows that your daily pattern of eating is controlled by an internal circadian rhythm.

Therefore, mistimed eating can have negative effects on metabolic health.

Food timing that is out of sync with light/dark cues could cause higher calorie intake due to impaired hunger cues that are regulated through hormones like leptin, ghrelin, and even thyroid hormones.

On the other hand, eating during the normal active phase reduces metabolic disturbances.

Therefore, in addition to calorie intake and dietary composition, appropriately timed meal patterns are critical to resync your circadian rhythm and limit metabolic risks.

Studies have shown that skipping breakfast is associated with obesity and poor blood sugar control.

In addition, research has found that eating late at night is associated with increased fat mass and higher body mass index.

This means that you should make it a point to eat a high-quality breakfast.

As far as timing your dinner, it's best to aim for your last meal to be four or more hours prior to bedtime.

Evening fasting before an overnight fast appears to have more beneficial health effects than an overnight fast followed by continued morning fasting by skipping breakfast.

Follow this eating schedule to lose weight fast! These meal timing setups are tested and PROVEN to work.

Tips For Increasing Quality of Sleep

It can be tough to get enough shut-eye when you lead a busy life.

You may be staying up late to finish work leftover from earlier in the day, or to get your kids ready for school the next day.

Getting eight hours of sleep a night may seem like a pipe dream — no pun intended!

But it is important to remember that if you don’t put your personal needs first sometimes, you won’t be able to continue to maintain your health and lead a high quality of life.

Adequate sleep needs to be prioritized just as much as any other aspect of your life.

Tips to Get Adequate Sleep

Set a bedtime and try to stick to this.

If you know that you have to get up at a certain time, aim for a time that will allow you to get 7-8 hours of sleep.

That may seem impossible, but if you can do this for even a few weeks, you will start to notice how much better you feel and will likely want to stick to this habit.


  • Keep electronics out of the bedroom.
  • Avoid watching TV or using your laptop or phone once you are in bed. This will condition your mind to associate the bedroom with only sleep.
  • Shut off your phone or the TV 30 minutes prior to bedtime. Again, this allows your brain to start winding down in preparation for sleep.
  • Avoid caffeine at night, especially after 6 pm.
  • Over the counter supplements like tart cherry juice or chamomile tea have been shown to aid with restorative sleep. These are safe and won’t make you feel groggy in the morning.

Learn how to get better sleep at night with these important sleep tips for women!

Improving Your Exercise and Sleeping Patterns

By getting adequate rest at night you can ensure that you are able to focus throughout the day while improving your overall physical and mental well-being.

You may think that waking up early to cram in a workout is the best way to whip yourself into shape.

However, this can actually be detrimental to your fitness if it is causing you to be sleep deprived.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work out in the morning!

If you really want to get in an early morning workout, just be sure to get to bed earlier to ensure you are still getting an appropriate amount of sleep each night.

And of course, you want to follow this with a nutritious breakfast.

By combining a high-quality diet, a consistent exercise program, and proper sleep habits you can put together the perfect fitness plan.

This will have even the busiest mom looking and feeling fit and energized.

Holly Smith, M.D.
B.S. - Dietetics, NASM-PES Certified Trainer

Writer, The Fit Mother Project

Holly is an osteopathic physician, runner, triathlete, and fitness and nutrition enthusiast.

She is board certified in nephrology and internal medicine, has a bachelors degree in dietetics and is a certified personal trainer with NASM-PES certification.

Holly has completed four full ironmans, twelve marathons, countless half ironmans, olympic distance triathlons, half marathons and numerous other road races.

Holly joined the Fit Father Project in May 2019 as a regular writer, contributing articles on health, wellness, exercise, and nutrition.

She has also recently qualified for the 2020 World Championships for Ironman 70.3, in New Zealand!

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*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on exercise and sleeping patterns.

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