There is no doubt that we live in a fast-paced world that seems to place less and less value on rest, recovery and sleep. Reading books has been traded for reading Facebook posts while long chats with friends have been traded for #tweets. It seems like each year brings faster days and shorter nights, daily savings time or not. Between work, family, farm and fitness, sleep keeps getting the short end of the stick-and your health and fitness might be paying the price.

If you habitually get less than 7-8 hours of sleep, it is time to take a moment, relax and reorganize your schedule and priorities. Planning for and getting enough sleep is not a sign of being lazy-it is a sign of being smart today and investing in a productive tomorrow!

Not only does getting enough sleep allow you to remain more alert during the day, but it helps your muscles to recover, repair and rebuild while lowering your stress levels. When you are training on any level, muscle recovery is crucial to progress and performance. And I don’t know anyone that wouldn’t benefit from a little less stress in life!

If your WHY for fitness is weight loss rather than sports performance, hitting the hay too late while rising when rooster crows could actually be causing your scale to stick. A University of Chicago Medical School study† determined that sleep deprived participants metabolized glucose less effectively and had higher levels of cortisol. Too much cortisol is responsible for impaired memory, increased insulin resistance and that slow muscle recovery we already discussed.

Burning the midnight oil or suffering from interrupted sleep can also cause cravings for foods that are higher in cholesterol, saturated fat and total fat. Don’t get me wrong, our bodies need the benefits that come from balanced cholesterol and good fats-but too much of a good thing is still too much of a good thing! There is actually a scientific reason for your increased daily cravings and frequent midnight snacks. When you sleep less your body triggers the release of less Leptin (a hormone that suppressed appetite) and more Gherkin (a hormone that stimulates appetite).

In summary, decreased sleep causes cravings for bad foods, then improperly metabolizes those foods while inhibiting your muscles from performing at their peek. I don’t know about you, but this farm girl is going to be trading #fallontonight for #restedandready. Sweet dreams!

† Read more in the Team Beachbody Newsletter

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