Sleep is a crucial part of weight loss, arguably even more so than working out!
Without quality sleep, your dieting efforts can be wasted. In fact, dieters that don’t get enough quality sleep will lose less fat, lose more muscle, and eat more food than if they had gotten good quality sleep in the first place.
Most won’t even realize that sleep is the culprit to their weight loss struggles but that’s because they don’t understand why we sleep in the first place.
I’ve spent a lot of my early adulthood years thinking to myself, “sleep is such a waste of time” but happy to I’ve gotten wiser since then.
To put it simply, sleep is our primary way of recovering. It’s primetime that we will experience:
- Psychical recovery – this is the moment where our brain recovers.
- Physical recovery – when we sleep our body recovers and builds certain tissues (muscles) and releases others (fat).
- Metabolic recovery – this is where our body distributes nutrients to help it run all the different systems we need to survive.
Recovery is the most important part of any weight loss journey. It’s actually what you want to maximize when you’re trying to lose weight because without it you don’t lose weight!
Your body doesn’t lose fat while you’re awake, training hard, and dieting. It’s the opposite. Your body will hold on to body fat in those moments. It doesn’t actually let go of the fact until it’s recovered physically from training and mentally from the toll of dieting.
When you don’t sleep enough, you make it harder for your body to lose weight because of what it causes.
The science of what happens when you don’t sleep enough is sure to persuade you to hit the hay more.
If you sleep less than 7 hours regularly you’re more like to experience:
- Measurable physical and mental impairment.
- Your time to physical exhaustion drops by 30%. Meaning you will get worn out by your workouts faster, and less training volume leads to less results.
- Lactic acid builds up quicker the less you sleep. This will make it physically more challenging to complete your training session and more mentally draining as well.
- A 60% increase in injury probability. Research has shown that your stability muscles will fail earlier on less sleep.
- Lower peak muscular strength, lower vertical jump, and lower peak run speed have all been measured in subjects with less than 7 hours of sleep.
- Leptin levels drop. Leptin is a hormone that regulates your appetite and weight. Leptin sends signals to your brain to let you know you’re full. Having less of it means it becomes easier to overeat
- Ghrelin levels rise. Gherlin also regulates your appetite and weight but this hormone signals to your brain that you’re hungry. People that sleep 4-5 hrs/night eat about an extra 200-300 cal/day which, over the span of a year, leads to 10-15 pounds of weight gained.
- You produce less insulin. Insulin gets a bad rep but it’s important. Less sleep will negatively impact your insulin sensitivity and your glucose tolerance. This will hinder your fat loss goals by not allowing you to handle the carbs you’re in-taking
- You produce less testosterone. A 10% drop in testosterone has been measured in men when sleeping less than 7 hours for only 5 days! Having low testosterone is directly linked to increased body fat accumulation, elevated estrogen levels, and less muscle production.
This all happens if you sleep for less than SEVEN hours a night regularly. Meaning, 7 hours a night should be the minimum that we should aim for to avoid experiencing any of the negative effects to your weight loss.
Now that you know how important sleep is, let’s see how we can get more sleep for you.
The truth is that the quality of your sleep is affected by a variety of factors, some of which may seem so simple that they’re easy to ignore…
However, there are fundamental truths about sleep, which will do the job if you go by them, so let’s have a look!
- Create a sleep routine
Your body loves routine, getting to bed and waking up at roughly the same time every day (+/- 1 Hour) will help regulate your circadian rhythm and get your body optimized for sleep.
By doing this, you teach your body when it is time to rest and when it is time to wake. Which helps you feel more energized throughout the day too!
- Start the day with sunshine
Getting sunshine on your skin and in your eyes as early as you can also help with regulating your circadian rhythm to help to go to sleep easier.
5-10 minutes of sun exposure, even if it’s cloudy/overcast, can make a huge difference in how you sleep in the evening.
- Invest in a good mattress
We spend ⅓ of our lives sleeping.
With that being said, we shouldn’t compromise the good mattress because it has an important role in the quality of our sleep.
Bonus: The pillow is also a nice investment, so spend your money wisely for a comfortable one.
- Remember the 3 keywords
- Cold – 60-67 degrees Farenheit is the ideal temperature for sleeping.
- Noise – It should be quiet in your room.
- Darkness – It must be fully dark when you sleep, so buying dark curtains is a smart idea.
- Take a hot bath/shower before sleeping
This helps lower your body temperature. Since your body is met with heat, it will release heat to balance your internal temperature. This helps cool you down and create that cold environment for better sleep.
- Reduce caffeine consumption
As you probably know, caffeine is a stimulant designed to keep you awake and alert. What you don’t probably know, is that it can remain in your body for up to 10 hours after consumption! So avoid drinking caffeinated beverages 8-12 hours before you plan on sleeping for best results.
- Don’t look at your phone, laptop, TV before bed
The blue light emitted from these devices sends contradicting signals to your brain since it’s similar to the blue light that comes from the sun. Using blue light filters or blue light reducing apps can help prep your body for a deeper sleep. Try to reduce or eliminate blue light exposure 1-2 hours before bed.
7. Brain dump
This tip is for all my overthinkers out there. If you catch yourself struggling to sleep because your mind is always racing, you need to get those thoughts out of your head so you can get to sleep!
Journaling your thoughts, talking them out to someone, or recording them in a voice note are all great ways to take the thoughts out of your head and put them elsewhere so you can get to sleep.
This is my last point on purpose. You shouldn’t start solving your sleep problem with supplementation, but it can be a helpful aid to get into the routine or on days where you’re not feeling as tired.
Good ingredients to look for include reishi mushroom, magnesium, CBD, valerian root, and ashwagandha. Zen by Cured Nutrition is a powerful organic blend of all of these and my recommended natural sleep aid.
Things To Know Before Starting Out
If you’ve tried getting more sleep before, you know that you’ll still feel tired even after getting in more hours.
Our body responds best to routine and predictability. If you sleep for 8 hours one night after weeks of sleeping for 5 hours a night, it’ll be thrown off and tired as a result.
So, the first couple weeks of sleeping on a regular schedule for the ideal number of hours could still have you feeling tired in the morning.
However, you’ll need to stick to it for a period of time until your body adapts to this new routine you’re setting up for yourself. Once you’ve done that consistently (usually 10-20 days) you’ll start sleeping easier, waking up more rested, and having more energy than you have in ages!