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Do You Need More Sleep if You Exercise?

Research shows people who exercise may need more sleep than their inactive counterparts — especially when they exercise at a high intensity. That also includes those who work in labor-intensive professions. Some of those occupations might be:

  1. Mover
  2. Roofer
  3. Concrete/brick paving
  4. Construction worker
  5. Crab Fisherman
  6. Farmer
  7. Warehouse worker
  8. Steelworker
  9. Demolition worker
  10. Bridge workers

I mean, those folks really work hard! For example, when it comes to movers, their job involves physical exertion, often requiring lifting heavy objects, carrying them for extended periods, and navigating through tight spaces. It certainly can put a significant strain on their bodies, especially their backs and spines.

Additionally, sleep and exercise also impact cognitive function and brain health. A new study shows that they influence each other. Meaning that even if you work out and provide your brain the opportunity to have that cognitive help, a lack of sleep could cancel out that boost.

Pay attention laborers and aging citizens, sleep is just as important to your physical and mental health as exercising!

Harvard Medical School recently studied how the two impact one’s cognitive health. In the article, they suggest, “Getting at least 150 minutes of exercise each week (such as brisk walking) is crucial to keeping your memory and thinking skills sharp. Exercise promotes the birth of new brain cells and increases the production of enzymes that break down amyloid proteins associated with dementia. Sleep also plays a role in cognitive health, flushing those amyloid proteins out of the brain. The right amount of sleep is so important that a lack of Z’s may sabotage the cognitive perks of exercise. “

Basically, 9,000 dementia-free people (ages 50 and older) were studied over a ten-year period, and of those who exercised but received less than six hours of sleep each night had faster rates of cognitive decline.


How can lack of sleep affect cognitive development?

Seriously – I have no idea then how I managed to pull all-nighters studying and still doing well. So how does it affect cognitive development? Scientists measuring sleepiness have found that sleep deprivation leads to lower alertness and concentration. Focusing and paying attention is more complex, making you more easily confused. This hampers your ability to perform tasks that require logical reasoning or complex thought. Sleepiness also impairs judgment.

Well, that makes more sense. It reminds me of the acronym “HALT” for whenever I feel overwhelmed, anxious, unable to concentrate, etc. HALT stands for:

  • Hungry (have a snack)
  • Angry (breath, pause)
  • Lonely (call a friend or go help someone)
  • Tired (take a nap)

It has been said that if I address these primal needs and not ignore them, I will succeed more in handling the day’s challenges. Well, I have been practicing this action for a little over four years now, and it works. So, I’ll keep doing it!

It is also worth mentioning that sleep deprivation affects brain structure and function. Neuroimaging studies have found that sleep loss can lead to changes in the prefrontal cortex, a brain region involved in executive functions, decision-making, and self-control. These alterations can have long-lasting effects on cognitive processes and overall brain health.

Basically, sleep plays a crucial role in cognitive development and functioning. Lack of sleep impairs memory, attention, decision-making, and emotional regulation while also increasing the risk of cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases. Therefore, it is essential to prioritize and ensure sufficient sleep to support optimal cognitive development and overall well-being.


What are the 7 signs of sleep deprivation?

Unfortunately, a friend went through chemotherapy and radiation for cancer treatment. As a direct result of the treatment and the medications she will continue to take for the rest of her life, messes with her sleeping. She has gone three days without sleep on several occasions just in the last year. If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one, here are some more symptoms to keep an eye out for:

  • Slowed thinking
  • Reduced attention span
  • Worsened memory
  • Poor or risky decision-making
  • Lack of energy
  • Mood changes

If sleep deprivation continues long enough, you could start having hallucinations and start seeing or hearing things that aren’t really there. A lack of sleep could and has triggered mania in people who have bipolar mood disorder. Other psychological risks include:

  • Impulsive behavior
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Suicidal thoughts

You may also end up experiencing microsleep during the day. During these episodes, you’ll fall asleep for small amounts of time, merely seconds, without even realizing it. Microsleep is out of your control and can be extremely dangerous if you’re driving. It can also make you more prone to injury if you operate heavy machinery at work and have a microsleep episode.

So, how can we improve our sleep and exercise patterns? There are some great methods I have found along the way, including massage. Specifically, the benefits of foot massage. Let’s explore more of that option…


Benefits of foot massage before bed

At the end of the day, when we are done with our days’ work and play activities, the feet need relief and rest. Foot massage just before bed can help you sleep better by improving blood circulation, relaxing the nerves, and allowing the body to unwind. Restful sleep is encouraged from as little as four minutes on each foot.

Massaging your feet before bed is a great way to relax and unwind after a long day. It can help to reduce stress, improve circulation, and relieve muscle tension. This can help to make falling asleep easier and encourage deeper, more restful sleep.

Regular foot massages can also help to reduce insomnia. Many studies have shown that people who receive regular foot massages, or even any type of massage daily, tend to experience an improvement in their quality of sleep. This is likely due to the release of endorphins and other hormones that are activated during a massage. Endorphins are known to have a calming effect and can help to reduce anxiety, which can make it easier to fall asleep.


Do you need more sleep if you exercise?

In conclusion, the short answer is yes! Yes, exercise and sleep are interconnected and highly crucial to cognitive development and overall well-being.