For the active lifestyle that I have, I need to really make sure that I sleep enough on a regular basis. I need plenty of energy to deal with my physically tiring job, the 5x per week that I train myself, the focus to be The Lab’s blog writer, and also to help look after 1 year old daughter. I make sure I sleep by 10pm in order to be awake by 6am (even on the weekend). This does take a bit of sacrifice with my social life but as a health conscious individual, it’s definitely worth it.
Energy levels are not the only thing that gets affected by sleep deprivation. Our ability to stay in shape and lose body fat is strongly linked to the quality of our sleep. Some of us have hectic lifestyles so it becomes a challenge to find time to exercise and have a solid 7 to 9 hours of sleep (differs between individuals). To achieve our fitness goals we will likely have to start focusing on our sleep as much as our nutrition and training.
Will power is not the only thing driving our ability to stay in a calorie deficit during fat-loss phase. Our appetites are controlled by the hormones leptin and ghrelin. No, these are not names of characters from Harry Potter. A lack of sleep will reduce the amount of leptin produced and increase more ghrelin. The end result is that your appetite is grows and your metabolism slows down. This is the exact opposite of what you want to happen during a diet. The longer you are awake also means that there are more opportunities to give in to your hunger cravings.
Testosterone is a key hormone in men that directly affects metabolism, the ability to build muscle, recover from training, and also dictates our energy levels. Consistently under-sleeping has been proven to reduce levels of testosterone in men. Say goodbye to beast-mode.
A hormone that does increase is the stress hormone cortisol. When cortisol levels are too high we begin to store fat more readily in addition to not being able to recover from training properly. Studies have shown that people on the same diet will lose significantly different amounts of body fat when the quality of their sleep differs. There may be other factors at play here (individual physiological differences) but sleep clearly plays a key role in body composition.
The importance of sleep should not be underestimated in all areas of our lives. Not sleeping enough will decrease your focus, alertness, and this can lead to lackluster training. Too many bad workouts will prevent you from reaching your fitness goals. Interestingly, the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, and problems with your immune system is also strongly increased. Giving up more of our day to sleeping will make the hours that we are awake a lot more productive. Time to prioritize that good ol’ beauty sleep!
By Coach Rishi Haria