Sleep is the under-rated “role player” in the game against Fat Loss.
The four main areas that Sleep helps with are:
1 – Self-control – How often have you wanted to skip the gym or eat something that wasn’t on your eating plan because you were “tired”?
2 – Insulin Management - Those who are sleep-deprived have cells that are more insulin resistant and therefore making it harder to regulate your blood sugar.
3 – Recovery from your workouts – The first cycle or two of sleep is mainly to assist in physical recovery. In addition to that, growth hormone is released earlier in the sleep cycle so if you’re trying to recover from workouts, you need to go to sleep relatively early.
4 – Your Memory - The first half of sleep is for physical recover, whereas, the later stages of sleep are more for memory formation and brain connections. Sleep helps to form the connections that basically serve as our memory.
With that said, I can’t stress enough how important sleep is to maintaining one’s ability for self-control when it comes to sweets and working out.
So what happens when you’re sleep deprived? A number of different physiological and neuroendocrine responses.
Ghrelin is a hormone that plays an important role in regulating one’s appetite. During both short and long-term sleep deprivation, one’s ghrelin levels increase. This means that you will be hungry more often.
On top of that, sleep restriction increases one’s sympathetic nervous system, which in turn increases cortisol levels at night. In other words, expect to be hungry at night. Almost EVERY single client that I’ve ever dealt with has had this issue of night hunger.
In addition to increased ghrelin and cortisol at night, sleep deprivation impairs fat loss via 2 additional methods – impaired glucose regulation and decreased leptin levels.
Leptin is the hormone that helps to dictate how much fat is in your cells. This is why strict diets often fail, because leptin levels drop dramatically and after the diet is over, you over-consume foods to increase your leptin levels.
Therefore, sleep deprivation, decreases the amount of leptin and once again increase hungers.
Insulin is the hormone that clears glucose from your blood stream and either uses it for fuel (brings glucose into muscle cells) or uses it for fat storage (pulls glucose into fat cells). Impaired glucose regulation means that your body’s (muscle) cells are becoming less insulin sensitive. This means more insulin needs to be released and is more often pulling that blood glucose into fat cells.
The easiest way to solve this problem is to go to bed consistently earlier and aim for 7-9 hours per night. You will need more sleep in the winter months than the summer months. Also, your environment should have minimal lighting, if any.
Obviously, this is not always the most practical of all advice, but it is the one thing that often separates those that see results from a smart eating plan/exercise and those that don’t.
Here are ten other tips from Charles Poliquin regarding Sleep.