For as long as man has been around people have always said how important sleep is to the body.
Theres always been the 8 hour golden rule, which is truly a golden rule! They’ve actually been completely right, since the beginning.
Now its always been about having energy for the day, or being able to focus more, or simply being in a healthy state.
But what about sleep for fat loss? Can sleep be the golden rule when it comes to that too? ….Hell yes it is!
Now let’s be completely honest with ourselves on this one, most of us do not truly sleep as much as we should. Shit, I’ll even admit this one and I don’t have a great excuse to be completely honest. I don’t start my work day until about 2 or 3 depending on my clients that day. I only work until about 9PM… But I purposely wake up early to write, read, study, train, or improve myself in some way, even if that takes away my sleep. But hey, maybe me writing this article will help me realize that I do need that full 8 hours on a regular basis if I plan to hit my fitness goals.
So most of you actually have pretty good excuses whether its your kids, work, school, family, etc. But there is always wiggle room where you can get in that extra sleep. But if there’s not, then how do you make the most out of your sleep so you can get the results you’re looking for? Well today I will tell you how to make that sleep better and get the best results because of it.
But first, why is sleep so important for fat loss?
Deprived Sleep’s Effects on Hormones
-The first hormone it affects is insulin, which is a highly misunderstood hormone that is actually a staple in fat loss and muscle gain. Losing even the slightest bit of sleep can affect your insulin sensitivity negatively, by reducing it. It can also reduce your glucose tolerance which will also hinder your fat loss goals by not allowing you to handle the carbohydrates you are taking in. The good thing about this is that it can be reset as soon as you make up that sleep and/or start getting enough sleep on a weekly basis.
-Next will be testosterone, which is also reduced by lack of sleep. Studies have actually shown a 10% drop in testosterone when getting a few hours less sleep over 5 days. So if you’re getting around 5 hours a day of sleep on a weekly basis your testosterone can be shot big time, which is a huge deal when it comes to building muscle and burning fat. Having low testosterone is directly linked to having excess body fat, this also will raise estrogen higher which is also linked to excess body fat. Testosterone is one of our main hormones when it comes to building muscle, building muscle gets us tone and burns more fat. Therefore we want to keep our testosterone!
-The other main hormone that helps us build muscle is the growth hormone, which is also effected by lack of sleep. First of all a large pulse of the growth hormone is accounted for as soon as sleep begins and about 50% of daily production occurs during sleep. The good thing about this one is that you also produce 50% during your wake hours, so you can make up for what you miss. But if you’re a night shift worker, your sleep patterns change on a regular basis, or your consistently missing sleep, then your growth hormone production cycle can and will be disturbed. So this one is slightly up in the air, but if you ask me it is not worth playing with. My advice is to get the sleep and keep the cycle on a strict pattern so your hormone cycle is not disturbed.
-The last hormone I will discuss is quite possibly the most crucial when it comes to fat loss, which is Cortisol. Cortisol is a tricky and slightly confusing hormone, because it does have fat burning properties but can also be catabolic to building muscle. Raised cortisol can also tend to increase stress levels which is also linked to fat gain or to hindering fat loss. Cortisol is the hormone that helps you wake up in the morning, this is when its high, and it drops at night which helps you get to sleep. This is another reason fat burning is at its high in the morning (especially when in a fasted state) and why muscle-building can actually be at its highest in the evening. The truth about cortisol is that it comes down to properly cycling the hormone by keeping your sleep in check. If you’re not getting enough sleep then you will have raised cortisol levels for a longer period of time then your body is meant to have, during the awake state. So think like this, you get 4 hours of sleep but are supposed to get 8+. This will mean you have about 4 extra hours of raised cortisol levels during the awake state and the more sleep you miss throughout the week the more cortisol will build up. Soon you will have higher cortisol levels all day which will produce more stress, less sleep and ultimately less fat loss.
Now that probably seemed like a lot on just hormones, well I’m glad to be honest. Hormones are some of the most important tools when it comes to fat loss and muscle gain and sadly enough people completely over look them. There are still other reasons sleep is needed to make sure you’re getting the fat loss your striving for.
-This one is not completely researched and is more of a personal effect rather than scientifically studied fact. But I know for me, if I don’t get my beauty sleep I will not get the lift I should be getting. The studies that have been performed on this are somewhat unsure of an exact result. The studies participants only missed one night of sleep, rather than going on weeks of regularly missing sleep which is more client based realistic. They also did not find any evidence in any bodily changes for proof to say sleep deprived their performance, but sprint and endurance measurements did lack when sleep was deprived. So like I said before, this one is up in the air and really comes down to personally preference. For me though, I straight up need sleep!
Sleeps Effect on Hunger
-Studies have shown that lack of sleep can lead to extra hunger and eating throughout the day. This can easily make sense, energy is food and sleep is food. Don’t get enough of one? Well lets double up on the other than. At least that’s what your body is thinking and it thinks like this because of a hormone called Orexin. Orexin is a wakefulness-promoting hormone that positively modulates hunger. Orexin is increased the longer you are awake and one of its side effects is hunger. Many studies have been done on this and have been correlated directly to the obesity epidemic in our country.
-This is another tricky one because studies have been all over the board with it. Some studies have shown huge drops in metabolic rate with regular sleep deprivation and others have shown none. Some studies performed on adolescent boys have even shown an increase in metabolic rate, to make things extremely confusing. To me this says one thing, everybody is different. We all react differently to things and the only way to tell is to hire a doctor with a metabolic rate testing machine to constantly test your body… but who’s got that money and time?! So best thing to do is to get your sleep, that’s not going to negatively affect your metabolic rate and this way we can be sure your metabolic rate is in check.
I really hope this all truly clears up the reasons why sleep is so important for fat loss and muscle gain. I also hope it clicks a light bulb so you will start to work on your sleeping problems so that you can reach your fitness goals.
Like many always say there is a triangle of importance to reach your fitness goals, recovery, training and nutrition. Well sleep is a huge part of recovery and also a part of nutrition because it effects your diet directly.
But now your probably like, “How do I fix my sleeping patterns?!”
There are so many ways this article would be a full book by the time I got done. Start by eating your last meal about 2 hours before bed, turning off all lights and/or electronics 1-2 hours before bed, meditate or perform relaxing exercises before, write out your stresses on a paper so you’re not thinking all night, etc. The list goes on and hey, maybe that will be my next article. Until then this is all.
GET YOUR SLEEP!!! 🙂