The Importance of Sleeping!
Posted on March 28 2017
Sleep is often an overlooked factor when it comes to fat loss. When wanting to lose fat, we place so much importance on our nutrition and training, however some of us aren’t getting the quality nor quantity of sleep necessary in order to achieve the best possible results.
So what happens when we don’t get enough sleep?
When we are lacking sleep our cortisol levels increase. Cortisol is a hormone released that works to break down body tissue. When our bodies are stressed cortisol levels will be high and you will be at risk of problems such as muscle mass loss. It can also lead to storing body fat as your body will conserve energy to fuel the time you are awake.
Lack of sleep can also effect our appetite and hunger! The hormones it directly links to is ghrelin (signals your brain its time to eat!) and leptin (signals your brain you are full). When you are tired, ghrein levels will increase and leptin levels will decrease, so this is why sleeping less has a direct correlation to overeating and weight gain. Sleep deprivation can leave us feeling fatigued and low in energy, so our bodies will automatically turn to food to provide a quick source of energy. This can lead to making poor food choices which is not ideal when you are trying to lose body fat.
Being sleep deprived can also lead to a decrease in overall exercise performance. When you are feeling tired, motivation levels will be low and you will find yourself struggling to maintain your usual levels of strength and efficiency in the gym. Not only is your performance effected, but your muscle recovery time will be significantly longer. While you are asleep it is the primary time for our body to recover from exercise! This is when our bodies are working hardest to rebuild torn muscle tissues.
Tips for a better night sleep!
1. For most adults, 7-8 hours of sleep is optimal.
2. Turn off all computers, iPads, phones, tv etc at least an hour before bed
3. Go to bed feeling relaxed. Take a warm bath or read just before you sleep.
4. Try keep a consistent time schedule with your sleeping patterns if you can.
5. Avoid caffeine or foods/drinks high in sugar in the late afternoon.
6. Sleep in a dark room! Darkness causes your body to release the sleep hormone melatonin.
Personally, sleep is something I need to improve as I often prioritise work and training above this. Particularly when dieting, your body will already be under a stress from being in a caloric deficit so minimising cortisol by sleeping can make a big difference to your bodies overall conditioning!