Did you know that sleep has a major effect on ones ability to maximise weight loss?
It’s much more complicated than eating less and moving more. And i’ll explain exactly how poor sleep can affect your waistline. But first.
What is high quality sleep?
I know that at the end of every day, people put their head down and wake up in the morning. But how do we know that the sleep we had is effective?
1. You do not wake up during the night
Although very common, it is not a normal function of the body to wake during the night. Not to urinate, not to toss and turn and not to think about tomorrow’s meeting. The hormone Melatonin should knock you off to sleep and you should only wake up in the morning.
2. You wake up feeling refreshed/rested
Snoozing 5 times in the morning although again, very common, is a sign of something not quite right. Our stress hormones, mainly cortisol, should be HIGH in the morning allowing us to rise and shine. Low morning cortisol will have you reaching for the snooze button, which is also a sign things are not right in the night.
Now you know what quality sleep should look like, be honest. When was the last time you slept through the night and woke up refreshed?
So how does this affect our weight loss efforts?
Researchers at the Stanford School of Medicine, found that of
1000 volunteers, those that average 5 hours of sleep or less had an INCREASE in the hormones telling them to eat, and a DECREASE in the hormones telling them they were full!
Their BMI (Body Mass Index) also increased regardless of the subjects exercise and diet habits.
So we lose the ability to feel full and get an increase in the hormones that tell us when to eat.
Sounds like a recipe for weight gain. And here you thought it was a problem of willpower.
And as if that wasn’t enough, researchers Heymsfield and Gangwisch,
Found that subjects with avg. 5hr./night sleep had 73% increased likelihood of obesity over those who slept 7–9 hr/night.
But not only is it the amount of sleep that is important, it’s the quality of sleep too.
At RMF we monitor our clients HRV levels along with their sleep patterns.
HRV or Heart Rate Variability, is a measure to tell me how stressed your body is.
High stress will impact the following.
- Your ability to train hard. And therefore burn more fat over the proceeding days.
- How well you can recover. And therefore train again.
- The chances of you getting injured.
- The amount of carbohydrates you can consume.
- How those carbohydrates affect you (sleepy or energetic).
And having deep and restful sleep is the ONLY WAY to reset your cortisol or stress levels.
Not being able to sleep is now the number one health issue we see with people coming into RMF on their day one consultation.
No rapid fat loss will occur in a body that doesn’t get adequate rest.
Poor sleep causes the following.
- Alters growth hormone release.
- Increases TNF alpha and IL6 (inflammatory cytokines which are the precursor to ALL disease)
- Increases insulin resistance (why carbs make so many people tired instead of energetic)
- Increases Thyroxine Binding Globulin (which stops optimal thyroid hormone conversion, leaving you with a slow metabolism)
So as you can see, not only is getting high quality sleep critical to your health and performance, it affects your ability to lose weight and stay slim.
Now I want to show you some of the methods we use at the RMF Gym, to get our clients to sleep so they can lose weight quicker. We have multiple methods but i’ll cover just a few of them here.
People generally have 2 main issues with sleep.
- Not being able to fall asleep.
- Not being able to stay asleep.
They are effectively the same problem, so I will address a few different ways to tackle it. Each method works by itself, but adding multiple together has a synergistic effect.
First, not being able to fall asleep.
How To Get To Sleep
As stated previously, it is very common for people to be in a state of hyper-arousal in the evening.
Watching films, reading exciting novels and working late into the night keep the brain (and stress hormones) activated. You cannot watch James Bond one minute and then try to fall asleep the next. You are asking your body too many different things in a short space of time.
You need your body in a state of relaxation before you try to sleep, otherwise you will never get there.
Making sure you are performing activities that calm you, as opposed to excite you, will help you drift off to deep sleep.
Meditation, deep breathing, reading (non excitory) and using warm baths are all methods to help calm your central nervous system before you sleep. Using one may work, but using more is better.
How To Stay Asleep
In the evening, the hormone cortisol should start to decline. The hormone melatonin should be elevated and it’s the opposing effect of these two hormones that should send you to sleep and keep you there until morning.
However, as stated above, higher than normal cortisol (stress) hormones in the evening, prohibit this from happening.
Another major player in reducing melatonin is light. Melatonin production can only occur without the presence of light.
Now, not only do lots of busy professionals work late, but using iphones, ipads or tv before you go to sleep, doesn’t allow for adequate melatonin production.
Light tells your body it’s daytime. No need to produce melatonin. So your alarm clock, the little red light from your TV, light peaking in from your blinds, or street lamps all provide artificial light when you need complete darkness.
Try where possible to remove ALL light sources, however small, from your bedroom at night time. Once you sleep all the way through the night, you can relax a little more.
It some countries it’s actually possible to purchase the hormone melatonin, the same as we purchase other hormones like Vitamin D. In the UK however, we can’t purchase it, but it isn’t illegal to own it (go figure). If you can get your hands on some, small does work wonders to help people to fall asleep in the short term.
If you can’t get hold of melatonin, then supplementing with melatonin precursors such as 5HTP and L-Tryptophan, is your next best option. These compounds will allow your body to produce melatonin naturally.
These supplements don’t have the side effects of many sleeping drugs which often make you feel drowsy and/or deplete nutrients.
Impaired sleep will reduce your ability to burn body fat quickly. A healthy body with reduced stress levels allows you to work harder in the gym, which gives you quicker results.
Sleeping all the way through the night without waking is restful sleep. Everything else is NOT.
Deep restful sleep comes down to two things.
- Reducing your stress hormones cortisol, adrenaline and nor adrenaline.
- Increasing your ‘sleepy’ hormone, melatonin
We hope you like this article. Please comment below and share with your friends if you think it may help them.