Just Sleep

Seven to nine hours of sleep per night can help with health & fitness goals

Is a good night’s sleep the same as a good workout in the gym? Probably yes. While fitness revolves around eating healthy diets, workouts, jogs, walks, and yoga, among other things, sleep fitness is the new buzz word the world over. Leaving aside intense gym sessions and other fitness routines, most health freaks are now prioritising sleep fitness over everything else.

It’s no surprise that super honchos like Marc Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos are investing heavily in sleep fitness by procuring the latest hi-tech mattresses, which ensure a sound eight-hour sleep every day.

Are you not getting enough sleep and still continuing your workouts on a regular basis?

Sleep-deprived India

First things first, India is a sleep-deprived country, with a majority of the population suffering from fewer and fewer hours of sleep, according to Dr Marcus Ranney, India’s leading longevity physician and founder of Human Edge.

“Between the two (sleep fitness and workouts), I would prescribe a couple of hours extra in bed against a high-intensity workout in the morning for the vast majority of people,” says Dr Marcus.

Sleeping more beneficially

Dr Marcus says a lot of people think that hitting the gym hard will overcome their poor lifestyle. “But actually, a more beneficial effect for their body is getting those extra hours of sleep is more beneficial for their body. This ensures their physical, mental, and emotional well-being.”

Lack of sleep has many first- and second-order consequences for health and performance, as well as for an individual’s health span and longevity. “This is especially true for individuals who have hectic, chaotic lifestyles. Poor meals and sedentary lifestyles only make it worse,” he says.

The buzzword is “sleep”

Human health goes beyond diets and workouts, insists Integrative Lifestyle Expert Luke Coutinho. According to him, sleep has become a buzzword because people are realizing what chronic sleep deprivation can lead to.

“Eating the best, having the best workout plan, participating in a yoga class, consuming superfoods, and taking supplements are all important, but sleep is what connects them all.”

Sleep is repair, recovery, regeneration, healing, cleansing, and growth. He emphasises that we should not underestimate its importance.

He argues that human dynamics have incorporated sleep for a purpose. “Human beings are the only species that is okay with cutting back on sleep to achieve more. No other animal does that. But now most of us are bearing the brunt of sleep deprivation,” says Luke.

Heart attacks in young adults, chronic infections, obesity, diabetes, autoimmunity, and even cancer are all dependent on sleep for their prevention, management, and recovery, says Luke.

What research says

“Research shows that even just a few nights of insufficient sleep reduces the muscle protein synthesis response to nutrient intake. When we talk about muscle growth and repair, muscle protein synthesis is a crucial process. It’s the body’s way of repairing damaged muscle fibres, promoting muscle growth, and adapting to increased physical demands,” he explains.

In fact, Luke and his team have started the ‘Sleep Deeper India’ campaign, where they are trying to drive sleep across India as a lifestyle change.

“It is fundamental to human health and survival, and we have been taking it for granted for way too long.” According to the nutritionist, not getting enough sleep disrupts several physiological processes.


Restricting sleep to only five hours per night reduces testosterone levels in healthy young men, altering the release of growth hormone during sleep. “Sleep plays a critical role in regulating numerous physiological processes, including hormone production. Lack of sleep has significant negative effects on hormone levels and their regulation, particularly in healthy young men,” says Luke. He says sleep deprivation disrupts the delicate balance of two key hormones—leptin and ghrelin.


This hormone signals to your body that you’re full, helping to regulate appetite and prevent overeating.


This hormone triggers feelings of hunger, prompting you to eat. When you don’t get enough sleep, ghrelin levels go up, leading to increased hunger and cravings, while leptin levels go down, making it harder to feel satisfied after meals.

Balanced approach

Dr Vinoda Kumari, deputy chief medical officer, Jindal Naturecure Institute, says while a favorable night’s sleep and regular exercise offer significant benefits, they fulfil different yet complementary roles in maintaining overall health and well-being.

“Quality sleep is crucial for cognitive function, mood regulation, and physical recovery, providing the foundation for optimal daily performance and long-term mental clarity,” she says, pointing out that it aids in memory consolidation, supports immune function, and ensures hormonal balance, all of which are essential for sustaining energy and focus throughout the day.

Conversely, exercise enhances cardiovascular health, strengthens muscles, and boosts mental well-being by releasing endorphins, the body’s natural mood lifters.

“A balanced approach that includes sufficient sleep and regular physical activity can exponentially enhance overall health. Quality sleep improves exercise performance by facilitating muscle repair and growth, while regular exercise promotes deeper, more restorative sleep cycles,” she says.

By integrating both into a daily routine, individuals can achieve a synergistic effect, leading to comprehensive health benefits.

“Embracing this balanced lifestyle is key to achieving long-term wellness and sustained vitality,” she says, adding that regular physical activity also improves metabolic efficiency, aids in weight management, and reduces the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.

The impact of sleep loss

Hormonal Imbalance: “Sleep deprivation affects the production of hormones like testosterone and growth hormone, both of which are vital for muscle growth. Reduced levels of these hormones can lower the rate of muscle protein synthesis,” he explains.

Insulin Sensitivity: Lack of sleep can decrease insulin sensitivity. Insulin is not only important for regulating blood sugar levels but also plays a role in promoting muscle protein synthesis. Reduced insulin sensitivity can lead to a diminished anabolic response to protein intake.

Increased cortisol levels: Sleep deprivation often results in elevated levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. High cortisol levels can promote muscle protein breakdown and increase fat storage, disturbing body mass composition.

Increased Inflammation: Chronic sleep loss can lead to increased inflammation, which can interfere with muscle repair and growth processes. The combination of these factors means that even if you're consuming adequate protein and engaging in regular training, not getting enough sleep can significantly hamper your muscle-building efforts. In short, all your workouts and nutrition are useless without a decent night of rest.

Lack of sleep is a big problem, especially in India. Secondly, extra hours of sleep are more beneficial than an intense workout session at the gym.” — Dr Marcus Ranney, India’s leading longevity physician and founder of Human Edge

A holistic approach not only improves physical and mental well-being but also fosters resilience against stress, enhances mood stability, and supports a higher quality of life.” — Dr Vinoda Kumari, deputy chief medical officer, Jindal Naturecure Institute

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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