Sleep Genes

I can’t sleep straight through the night

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It goes without saying that sleep is a key element of a healthy life. This is particularly true for a training regimen if you want to see success and maximize results. Lack of sleep not only puts a major damper on your workouts, it can make them dangerous! If you are sleepy in tired, it’s not safe to operate exercise equipment and even drive to the gym in the first place! As it turns out, our ability to enjoy a good night’s rest is subject to genetic variations. The gene responsible is called Circadian Locomotor Output Cycles Kaput (Clock) gene.

Gene affecting sleep cycling: Circadian Locomotor Output Cycles Kaput (Clock) gene

When you get enough sleep (and we’re talking the good-quality kind), you’re actually doing more than just giving your body a break from physical activity. It actually impacts how easily your muscles recover from intense workouts, as well as how your body builds muscle, loses weight, and performs at its best, among other benefits. Unfortunately, several gene variations exist that have been shown to affect one’s circadian clock (your sleep cycle, that is). Depending on whether you’re more active in the daytime or at night, you can work around your genetically faulty circadian rhythm to reap the most benefits from your workout.

What to do:

To determine the extent of your sleep disturbance, you can download a sleep-monitoring app or a fitness watch or bracelet. If you experience moderate to severe sleep disruption, reset your body clock: turn off your alarm clock during the weekends and allow your body to wake up when it wants to, making sure your room conducive for sleeping in—curtains drawn, noise kept to a minimum, and room temp cool but not freezing. Didn’t get a good night’s sleep? You can recharge during the day by scheduling a 10 to 20-minute mid-day power nap. Studies show that these short naps help boost your performance later during the day, in addition to countering some of the adverse effects of not getting enough sleep at night.

If you’re accustomed to waking up early (say, six o’clock), schedule your workout between noon and 4 p.m. On the other hand, if you’re halfway between being an early bird and a night owl (that is, your wake-up time is usually just before 8 a.m.), your best time to exercise is 4 p.m. thereabouts. Lastly, if you’re a night owl (that is, you’re normally awake by around 10 a.m.) your optimal workout window is around 8 p.m.