What’s the Relationship between Sleep Quality, Exercise & Health?

Sleep, exercise and our general health are all connected. And to put it simply, they can all benefit and improve each other. Studies have shown that exercise helps with improving sleep quality and health and in return, the quality of our sleep helps us exercise. 

At F45 we know that many of our members are busy people who have family, work and social commitments they want to participate in and enjoy. One of the benefits of our workouts is that they’re convenient and time efficient: we do the thinking for you, guiding you through an optimal workout designed to improve your sleep quality and free up more time for the rest of your life. Keep reading to learn about the relationship between exercise, sleep quality and health.

The connection between sleep and health

The relationship between sleep quality and health is commonly known. Sleep is essential for helping our body and brain recover, helping us feel energetic, attentive and more positive the next day.¹ A loss of sleep makes us feel tired, can affect our memory, and regulate our emotions. A consistent loss of sleep is associated with obesity, high cholesterol and diabetes.¹ This is due to the combination of tiredness and the fact that our brain produces more hunger hormones when we’re sleep deprived. The result? We’re left craving sweet food or fast food to counteract feeling tired and satisfy those hormones. If you’ve ever noticed cravings set in after your usual bedtime, this is what’s happening!

How can exercise affect sleep?

Many studies have shown that regular exercise can improve sleep quality and lessen the time it takes to fall asleep. Exercise can also prevent daytime tiredness, if your energy suddenly slumps during the day, a sleep deficiency could be why.

Exercise also helps with improving sleep indirectly. Regular moderate or intense workouts (the type you’d do at F45), support weight loss, which then decreases your likelihood of developing sleep apnoea (inconsistent breathing during sleep).² Below, we will explore how sleep benefits our sleep cycle and relieves stress which in turn helps us sleep.

Improving sleep quality

Exercise benefits sleep quality in a variety of ways. Let’s explore the two key benefits of exercise for sleep below:

It’s easier to fall asleep: we all have something called a homeostatic sleep drive (the drive to go to sleep). The longer we are awake, the more this drive sets in, encouraging us to go to sleep. Exercise increases our sleep drive, helping us feel tired and fall asleep earlier. Exercise also increases our body temperature, and when the body cools down, signals are released in the body that encourage tiredness.³

You sleep for longer: workouts better sleep quality by improving our total sleep time and efficiency (the time we spend asleep while we’re in bed).4

Reduces stress levels

When we feel stressed, our body increases the amount of stress hormones it releases – the stress hormone being cortisol. Elevated cortisol levels can make it difficult to fall asleep and cause us to wake up throughout the night. Exercise or high intensity training can reduce your cortisol levels and therefore your stress levels.5 The less stressed we feel, the more likely we are to experience a deep and unbroken sleep.

How does quality sleep impact fitness?

What we do outside F45 sessions is just as important as we do inside. And this refers to what we eat, how we relax and how we sleep. Sleep is important to prioritise, as it’s where our bodies and mind can lock in the benefits of the work and training we’ve put in during the day. As mentioned above, improving sleep quality can help us manage or lose weight, improve our general health and build muscle mass.

Weight management

There are a few ways sleep may impact our body weight. Sleep can affect our appetite and ability to exercise. Some studies have shown a loss of sleep can lead to an increased desire for high calorie food (junk food) and feeling less full after eating.6 When we lose sleep, we also have less energy for working out, inhibiting our performance and ability to concentrate.7 In short, our sleep quality influences our weight as it affects our ability to exercise (burn calories) and manage our calorie intake.

If you’re on a weight loss medication such as GLP-1/Ozempic, sleep and exercise become even more crucial. Rapid weight loss can result in the loss of lean muscle mass. To help combat this, regular workouts and improving sleep quality can help maintain muscle mass during weight loss.8

Improved health and wellness

Our sleep quality and health are interconnected. And to keep ourselves well, we need to focus on the amount of sleep we get and how consistently we get it. Let’s explore the benefits of sleep quality on our general health below.

Improved mental health: sleep balances our mood and hormones, reducing feelings of stress, anxiety and irritation. 

Promotes heart health: improved sleep quality helps our cardiac health, supporting our blood flow and breathing.10 

Better focus: sleep supports our ability to think clearly, judge our movements and learn new information. This is particularly important in F45 classes where the exercise is constantly changing.11

Immunity support: during sleep, the body produces proteins call cytokines. These proteins help our immune system in preventing common illness and infections.12

Higher muscle mass

Our sleep quality can influence our ability to build muscle mass and strength. F45 members who enjoy our resistance workouts, are reminded to prioritise their sleep as adequate sleep gives your body time to repair and build on muscles you’ve worked out. In other words, to get the most benefit from F45 workouts and increase your muscle mass and strength, aim to get more than 7 hours of sleep each night.

Increased endurance and activity levels

Sleep is that overlooked variable that helps you get through the last ten minutes of your workout. Getting enough rest has been proven to promote endurance in physical workouts.13 When we get enough sleep, we are able to workout longer and harder, which in turn, improves out sleep quality and health. It’s an empowering and healthy loop to begin, and you can start it any day by joining your local F45 studio.

Want to learn more about improving sleep quality? Discover the relationship between nutrition and sleep.

1 https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/sleep-deprivation
2 https://www.racgp.org.au/afp/2017/july/obstructive-sleep-apnoea-and-obesity

3 https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/exercising-for-better-sleep

4  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31989592/

5 https://www.mdpi.com/2218-273X/11/4/516

6 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3763921/

7 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1755296611000317

8  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK221839/

9  https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/Mood-and-sleep

10 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9277512/

11 https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-deprivation/lack-of-sleep-and-cognitive-impairment

12 https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/expert-answers/lack-of-sleep/faq-20057757

13 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1080/17461391.2022.2155583


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