When it comes to getting fit and losing weight, people always focus on diet and exercise. While these are critical to any kind of athletic and weight goals, they ignore one vital factor: Sleep.
Everyone has their opinions, from your doctor to shows on television, to a trainer at your gym, and even to your loved ones.
You’re listening to them, you’re getting your exercise, you’re eating a healthy diet—but you’re lacking in energy and finding it hard to burn the calories and reach your goals. Why?
What Is Missing?
Without any big hurrah or hurray, the thing that most likely is holding you back is simplydown to lack of or bad sleep. A good night of sleep can do so much for our minds. It helps us to stay focused in the day, learn new things, and basically “kill it” in our lives. Did you know that it has a lot to do with our bodies as well?
It can affect your weight and energy levels, making it a must if you’re going to reach your fitness goals. It’s much more important than you would think. Experts say that a lack of sleep can hinder your efforts to get fit, even if you’re eating and exercising as you should be.
Sleep Issues Corelate to Obesity
Did you know that nearly 18 million Americans have sleep apnea, according to estimates?  Sleep apnea is a breathing disorder where people suddenly stop breathing while sleeping. It can lead to serious health issues, and it has been found that many people with this breathing disorder are often overweight.
With a heavier trunk and neck, you may have more difficulty breathing and respiratory issues. 
Weight-gain could be due to the factor that these individuals’ sleep issues are keeping them from getting fully-rested, which could lead to a lack of energy for exercising and eating well. Also, a lack of sleep affects glucose and insulin levels, which could lead to both serious health issues and weight gain.
For obese people with sleep apnea, it can be a challenge for them to get fit and healthy, as this sleeping disorder can do a number on one’s energy levels.
Many professionals say the sleep issues should be treated before a heavy person attempts to target diet and exercise —this is because sleep will make a difference in mood, energy, and even how one’s body is processing food.
And if you’re still struggling with sleep issues after making changes to your exercise and eating habits, then maybe some natural sleep aids could help you out a bit.
Getting Fit: Sleep and Exercise
Now that you understand that you need better sleep habits, along with exercise and a healthy diet, consider the timing of each one. For example, it’s been said that eating a late dinner can affect your night of rest, but so does exercising before bed.
Your body’s energy levels go up after a good workout, so consider the timing of your workout and also your last meal of the day. You want to exercise and eat well, but just not at the expense of your sleep. A good workout in the morning can enhance your efforts in your day. 
It can be a challenge to schedule your workouts to not affect your sleep. You could be someone who has time to get exercise early in the morning before work, but then it cuts into your sleep as you also get to be really late. It may take a lifestyle change to make sure your sleep and exercise habits go hand-in-hand in a healthy way, but it’s worth it.
Some pros in fitness suggest working out in the late afternoon. It’s early enough that it won’t interfere with your sleep schedule but also won’t make you wake up before your body is fully-rested in the early morning.
Healthy Stuff: Diet and Sleep
Apart from eating late, there are other eating habits that affect people’s sleep and overall fitness. For example, if you’re eating a lot of junk food, this could be because you’re not sleeping well at night, but this same junk food could be the cause of why you’re not sleeping well at night. Maybe something you’re eating is giving you heartburn. 
Heartburn is a big cause of insomnia, and so the vicious cycle continues. Also, if you’re not sleeping well, you may have a big appetite (perhaps bigger than normal) and a slower metabolism. You may find yourself reaching for food when what your body is really wanting to reach for is some sleepy time.
It’s a well-known fact: what you put into your body matters. If you’re eating the right protein and greens, etc., your body will function better. Your insomnia could be caused by that favorite sugary snack you eat every day. Your habit of drinking coffee in the late afternoon can make it difficult for you to drift off to sleep. Diet matters to your sleep. And, sleep matters to your diet.
What Does This All Mean?
If you have people telling you that you should eat well and exercise well to reach your fitness goals, they’re giving you good advice. They both go hand-in-hand for optimal results, but add one more thing to the pair to make it the perfect trio: sleep.
When you eat a healthy diet, you’re more apt to feel better and have more energy, leading to better exercise.
When you’re eating right and exercising often, it’s easier for you to get uninterrupted sleep. All three of these components are related to each other, so if you want to see a change in your fitness, make sure to be careful with all three. It can be a challenging lifestyle to juggle—after all, you’ll have to schedule it well, so no aspect is left out—but it’s one that is worth it to your goals and health.
Many people are committed to getting things done and being productive but often sacrifice sleep to do so, without realizing that they are actually making their lives more difficult. Sleep is huge for your weight loss or bodybuilding goals—don’t ignore it.