Get some sleep NOW!
This isn’t one of those blogs that will make you fall asleep, but it is one of those that will re-iterate the importance of sleep. Now if i was to tell you there was one quick and easy way to immediately take a positive step forward towards your health and fitness goals and didn’t cost you a cent, would you do it? Of course you would. Well then, all you need to do is go to sleep, not right now, but tonight, maybe for a little bit longer then last night, and a little bit better then last night.
In todays blog I tell you why you should be getting enough quality sleep.
If your goal is to look & feel great, perform and recover well, sleeping should be your absolute priority. Poor sleep can increase your fatigue and levels of your stress hormones that break down tissues (like muscle). Further, it is implicated in disordered regulation of the appetite & satiety hormones ghrelin and leptin. That basically means, you’re going to crave more food (particularly sugar & starch) and feel far less satisfied after you eat it – a double whammy to your fat loss goals!
Poor sleep also leads to a decreased ability to utilize sugar efficiently in the body, which in turn sets the stage for Type II diabetes. So, lets recap… you’re going to have crappy energy, so you will want to eat more, you’ll be satisfied less (which leaves you still hungry), and when you do eat – guess what? – Your body can’t utilize the calories properly anyway!!!
- Fat burning
Less sleep leads to increased consumption of energy (food) to compensate for your lack of energy. You are more likely to burn fewer calories through the day because you will be less active due to being fatigued.
During REM sleep you actually burn a lot of calories. Failure to go through the proper sleep cycle will mean less of this. What’s worth bearing in mind is the following fact: if you compare watching TV for 4 hours late at night versus using that time sleeping, sleeping will burn more calories (even though you’re basically sedentary during both!!).
During sleep, Growth hormone (GH) is secreted up to 600% greater than during the day! Growth hormone is an incredibly potent fat burner.
- Cognition and willpower
Lack of adequate sleep impairs cognitive function, decision-making, memory and willpower. READ THAT AGAIN…
After a poor night’s sleep you can expect to have less creativity, less ability to articulate, recall information, concentrate and sort information. Say good-bye to your productivity and motivation!! To make matters worse, with your willpower depleted, you’re chances of dominating every workout, achieving a new PB lift at the gym, or eat according to your goals are slim.
- Performance and Motivation
Lack of sleep increases your Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE). This means that the same workout will seem harder if you try to do it on a poor night’s sleep. As you can probably guess, this generally leads to less effort being applied, even if you somehow muster the motivation to get yourself to the gym in the first place.
So the question is, how can we get better sleep?
- Aim to get to sleep as soon as you can after sunset.
It is my belief that you should aim to get as much sleep as is sensibly possible before midnight. I would rather that clients get to sleep earlier and wake up earlier, rather than get to sleep later and wake up late. To expand on this, I feel that clients perform and recover better with more sleep in the winter months (shorter daylight) and can get away with staying up a bit later during the summer months.
- Reduce blue light exposure
Exposure to sources of light, particularly strong blue light, significantly impacts your body’s circadian rhythms. Melatonin production is incredibly important and occurs at night after the brain senses darkness. Living in the presence of artificial lighting, in the hours after the natural light of the sun has disappeared, is becoming the norm in many societies. The research so far leads me to believe there are some seriously negative impacts upon your health.
Sources of blue light exposure that you can try to reduce after sunset:
- Mobile phones
- Halogen lights
You can purchase yourself a pair of ‘BLUE-BLOCKERS’ that are orange visors that you can wear after sunset to limit the amount of blue light that your eyes perceive.
- Create darkness & silence
If your bedroom doesn’t get dark /quiet enough (remember you shouldn’t be able to see your hand in front of your face!), consider taking steps to fix this.
- Better curtains/blinds
- Replacing digital alarm clocks with LED lighting to other alarms
- Purchase a sleep mask to cover your eyes
- Use ear plugs
- Adopt new habits
- Reduce night time working habits
- Reduce night time TV
- Drink relaxing tea
- Consider taking a magnesium supplement if appropriate
- Let the body cool down slightly to get to sleep (don’t use the heater at night!)
- Limit afternoon caffeine intake
So let’s recap in a different way, there is not one negative effect towards your health when getting more sleep. It is an instant and immediate change that we can make to our days. Hopefully these tips will allow you to firstly get more sleep, and take one more step towards your goals!
Ben ‘Dreamland’ Cant
Are you getting enough sleep? That’s an easy question for you to answer. But are you hitting your health and fitness goals? If you would like to know how to take another step towards thses goals then why not register for a free two week trial at your closest RBT.