Sleep, Weight Loss and Workouts

It is recommended that the average adult get 7-8 hours of sleep each night.

But in a society that values productivity and earning over self-care, it can be hard to find enough hours in the day AND enough hours in the night.

So just how does sleep affect work outs and decrease stress?

Part 1: Sleep and Weight Loss

1. Sleep Ends Late Night Snacking. As it gets later and we get tired, we sit more and are  less able to differentiate between cravings and needs.   We watch TV, do homework, read books... and snack, usually on energy-rich foods like simple carbohydrates and fats.

2. Sleep Balances Body Chemistry. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, "...short sleep duration is related to lower levels of leptin and higher levels of ghrelin.

Leptin is a hormone that helps suppress your appetite and increase your metabolism. Ghrelin is a hormone that stimulates appetite. So when you are sleep deprived, the hormone to suppress hunger is low and the one to stimulate appetite is high."

3. Sleep IS your "Fat-burning Zone!" The body burns higher amounts of fat at lower levels of activity.  What's the lowest level of activity we can reach?  SLEEP!

Part 2: Sleep and Workouts

1. More Sleep = Better Workouts. If you're sleep deprived, you're less likely to work out, less able to work out hard. Run an experiment. If' you're usually at 5-6 hour-a-night-er, sleep a full 8 hours before your next work out.   Just watch what happens!

2. More Sleep = More Recovery.  Proper sleep also allows your muscles to heal - an integral part of the recovery process!   Muscle fibers are rebuilt, muscle tears and micro-traumas are healed and energy stores are replenished.

3. More Sleep = More Motivation! Sleep is invaluable to a positive outlook and sense of achievement, the two biggest hurdles to many people's fitness goals.

Let's connect the dots:

  • When we sleep 7-8 hours each night, our hormone levels are balanced and our bodies are capable of telling us just how much fuel we need.
  • With the proper sleep AND proper fuel, we can do dirty, sweaty, kick-butt workouts.
  • When we do dirty, sweaty, kick-butt workouts, we increase our metabolism.
  • When we sleep... with a higher metabolism... burning primarily fat... we burn lots of fat.

So go to bed early tonight.  Your trainer said so!

So what about stress levels?

It's pretty straight forward.  Sleep deprivation can send your sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response) into overdrive, increasing your heart rate, sending your blood pressure up, increasing your sweat output and dilating your  pupils.