Do you eat well and exercise regularly, but the scale still won’t budge?
Have you been working towards your fat loss goal for what seems like forever, but still haven’t seen any change?
Are you staying consistent in the gym, but your strength and performance hasn’t improved?
If this sounds like you and you’re getting frustrated, keep reading – the culprit may surprise you.
Though your diet and exercise habits greatly impact your results, there are several other factors that play a role in your success. Lifestyle habits, everyday stress and genetics can also wreak havoc on your transformation and performance efforts.
There’s another factor that’s often overlooked. Thanks to our busy schedules, many of us feel that we just don’t have enough time for it. Maybe we’ll push it aside because we have too much on our plates. Other times, we’ll procrastinate by watching hours of Netflix, scrolling through social media, surfing the internet, checking emails or playing video games.
Plus, if we’re lacking in it, there’s always caffeine.
We’re talking about sleep.
Sleep is the missing puzzle piece to reaching any fitness-related goal you have, from fat loss, weight loss, strength gains and performance improvement to just getting in shape and feeling your best.
Here’s the deal - if you’re not getting enough sleep, it’ll be more difficult for you to achieve any gains.
Why? Sleep is where the magic happens!
While you’re asleep, your body rebuilds and recovers from the “damage” and stressors of your day. This is when cellular processes occur and your hormone functions rebalance. Sleep allows you to recharge your internal batteries so you have the energy to take on tomorrow.
Let’s chat about sleep specifics.
You’re Chronically Catabolic
Sleep deprivation is one of the fastest ways for your body to get stuck in a catabolic state. “Catabolic” means to break down, while “anabolic” means to build up. Ideally, to reach your transformation and performance goals, you want to remain in an anabolic state as often as possible.
Protein synthesis, the process your body undergoes to create protein and rebuild muscle, happens while you’re asleep. Sleep deprivation slows and potentially stalls this process. When this becomes chronic, your muscle fibers begin to constantly break down because your body is unable to optimally recover.
Your body also releases HGH (growth hormone) while you’re asleep. This hormone assists in recovery because it stimulates the repair and growth of every type of tissue in your body. It also plays a role in slowing your body’s aging process, maintaining your body composition and boosting your metabolism.
When you’re chronically catabolic due to sleep deprivation, HGH can’t do its job. If your goals include boosting strength, building muscle and increasing your lean muscle mass, this is bad news.
You’re Constantly Hungry
Have you ever been shocked about how much you ate after night of suboptimal sleep? Your food choices probably weren’t your best, either.
It wasn’t a fluke. A lack of sleep threw the hormones that control your hunger out of whack.
Leptin and ghrelin are the two hormones that manage hunger and satiety. Leptin, which is primarily produced in your fat cells, is released to tell your brain that you’re full. Ghrelin, which is typically secreted from your stomach, tells your brain that you’re hungry.
When these hormones are functioning regularly, your body will secrete leptin and repress ghrelin to suppress your appetite. But sleep deprivation may cause the opposite to happen.
Constantly elevated levels of ghrelin may continue to stimulate your hunger, increase your food intake and even promote fat storage.
When you’re shooting for fat loss or weight loss, uncontrollable hunger isn’t going to get you anywhere. Plus, you’ll be more prone to choosing foods higher in carbohydrates and fat – and skimping on your protein while you’re at it. Protein is integral to your body composition change efforts.
You’re Somehow Storing Fat
Not getting enough sleep can also drastically affect your insulin function, which plays a big role in weight management. Insulin, a hormone secreted by your pancreas, regulates your blood sugar levels. When your blood sugar spikes, insulin is released to bring it back down. In doing so, insulin takes glucose out of your blood and transfers it into your cells so your body can use it for energy. Plus, when your blood sugar is too low, insulin is suppressed to bring it back up.
Chronic sleep deprivation may cause your body to begin resisting insulin and maintain elevated blood sugar levels. It may become harder and harder for insulin to transfer glucose from your blood into your cells. Therefore, your blood glucose isn’t being used for energy because it continues to circulate in your blood – causing your body to store this extra blood sugar as fat.
Cortisol (stress hormone) is yet another hormone that is negatively affected by a lack of sleep. It’s also connected to your ghrelin and leptin function. Sleep deprivation creates stress on your body, so it may cause your cortisol levels to rise and remain chronically elevated.
Elevated cortisol causes a not-so-fun chain of events. When your cortisol rises, your blood sugar spikes. As your blood sugar spikes, your body releases insulin to control it. When your blood sugar remains high, your body may begin to resist insulin.
The kicker - high levels of cortisol will also release ghrelin, your hunger hormone.
Constant hunger, a poor diet and elevated stress is a recipe for excess fat storage. Weight loss or fat loss can become extremely difficult if these two hormones are dysfunctional.
You’re Always “Out of It”
After a night with little sleep, we can guarantee that you just won’t feel right.
Planning on going to the gym? Forget about it. Your body will be fatigued, you won’t have the energy to perform and you won’t feel motivated to be there, either. You’ll also be in a catabolic state, meaning that any work you do in the gym might be wasted. This can do more harm than good!
Also, concerning your safety, you’ll be much more prone to dropping a bar on your head or injuring yourself in some other way.
Your workday won’t be fun, either. The frontal lobe of your brain is negatively affected by sleep deprivation. Your thoughts may be foggy, your productivity may decrease and your ability to make rational decisions could be impaired.
A side note for the guys - sleep deprivation reduces your testosterone levels. This means you’ll have trouble maintaining lean muscle, putting on more muscle and suffer a decrease in your sex drive.
Please, Get Some Sleep!
Studies suggest that you should strive to get seven to eight hours of quality sleep each night. We know – it’s easier said than done.
Here are some tips to get you on the right track:
- Commit to a consistent bedtime on weekdays and weekends.
- Whether you’re an early bird or night owl, work with it and not against it.
- Cut out blue light from electronics in the evening, as it stimulates your brain. Try blue-light blocking glasses if you can’t put your phone or laptop away before bed.
- Practice stress management techniques, like reading a book, meditating, listening to music, journaling or deep breathing exercises.
- Take natural sleep supplementation if needed, like melatonin, L-theanine or magnesium. Avoid over-the-counter sleep aids, as you can quickly build a tolerance.
If you need guidance on how to incorporate better sleep habits into your routine, we can help you. Schedule your free health consultation today.