Life as a professional bodybuilder can be hard. We are constantly looking out for new effective ways to gain muscle – the latest supplement, different workout routine, a new diet. All these things are very important but the key lies in our sleep patterns.
No training program, diet, or supplement can compensate for insufficient rest. Growth hormone is produced and protein synthesis occurs during sleep. These are two of the major benefits of sleep the other two are energy consumption reduction and brain cell restoration.
Throughout this blog post, I will explain the benefits of sleep and what to do to optimize it to support your muscle recovery and growth.
Sleep Controls Your Diet
The common suggestion about losing weight is “eat less and move more”. But it’s not that simple, or even true. Sometimes you want to eat less and move more, but it’s impossible because you have no energy. And there is a good reason for that. Between living your life, working, and exercising, you’re forgetting sleep.
Or even worst, you don’t realize sleep is the key to your dream physique. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 35 percent of people are sleep deprived. Considering that the statistic for obesity is almost identical, it’s easy to see that there is a connection between these two.
The lack of sleep – less than seven hours of sleep per night – can reduce and even undo the benefits of dieting, according to the new science. A research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine revealed that people on sleep-deprived diet experienced a 55% reduction in fat loss compared to their well-rested counterparts.
Poor Sleep Changes Your Fat Cells
How did you feel the last time you woke up after a bad night of sleep? Exhausted, dazed or even a little grumpy. It’s not just your brain and body that feel that way – your fat cells do too. Your body suffers from “metabolic grogginess” when its sleep deprived. The term was created by University of Chicago researches who analyzed what happened after just four days of poor sleep – commonly happens during a busy week. One late night at work leads to two late nights at home and the next thing you know, you’re in sleep debt.
But how bad could it be? It’s just four nights, right?
Within four days of sleep deprivation, your body’s ability to properly use insulin (the master storage hormone) becomes disrupted. The University of Chicago researchers found that insulin sensitivity drops by more than 30%.
Here’s the reason why this is bad. When your insulin is working well, fat cells remove fatty acids and lipids from your bloodstream and prevent storage. When you become more insulin resistant, fats circulate in your blood and pump out more insulin. Eventually, this excess insulin ends up storing fat in all the wrong places, such like your liver. This is exactly how you become fat and suffer from diseases like diabetes.
Lack of Rest Makes You Crave Food
There are a lot of people that will tell you hunger is related to willpower and learning to control your stomach, but that it’s simply not true. Hunger is controlled by two hormones – leptin and ghrelin.
Leptin is the hormone which is produced by your fat cells. The less leptin you produce, the more hungry you gonna get. The more ghrelin you produce, the more you stimulate hunger while also slowing down your metabolism and increasing the amount of fat you store. You simply need to control leptin and ghrelin to lose weight, but sleep deprivation makes that impossible.
A published research in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism reveals that sleeping less than six hours triggers the area of your brain which increases your need for food while also depressing leptin and stimulating ghrelin.
The scientists discovered exactly how sleep loss makes it impossible to lose weight. Your cortisol levels rise, when you don’t sleep enough. This is the stress hormone frequently associated with fat gain. Cortisol also activates reward centers in your brain which make you want food. At the same time, the loss of sleep causes your body to produce more ghrelin. A combination of high ghrelin and cortisol makes you hungry all the time – even if you just ate a big meal.
And it gets worse.
A study published in Nature Communications found out that just one night of sleep deprivation was enough to impair activity in your frontal lobe, which controls complex decision-making.
It turns out, sleep deprivation is little like being drunk. You don’t have the required mental clarity to make good complex decisions, especially with the foods you eat. That’s why sleep deprivation destroys all diets – it makes you crave high-calorie foods. Normally you might be able to fight off the desire, but because brain is weakened due to sleep deprivation, you have trouble fighting the urge and sustaining your diet.
And if all that wasn’t enough, research published in Psychoneuroendocrinology found that sleep deprivation makes you select greater portion sizes, increasing the likelihood of weight gain.
The bottom line: Lack of sleep means you’re always hungry, reaching for bigger portions, and desiring every type of food that is bad for you – and the worst is that you can escape it.
Sleep Sabotages Gym Time
The disastrous impact spreads beyond your diet and into your workouts. Having some muscle on your body is important, no matter what fitness goals you have. Muscle helps you burn fat and stay young but lack of sleep is the enemy of muscle. Scientists from Brazil found out that sleep debt decreases protein synthesis (your body’s ability to grow), causes muscle loss, and can lead to a higher incidence of injuries.
Lack of sleep makes it harder for your body to recover from exercise by slowing down the production of growth hormone – your natural source of anti-aging and fat burning that also facilitates recovery.
If you’re someone who doesn’t enjoy exercise, optimizing your sleep should be your number 1 priority. It will boost your recovery and give you more energy so you can push through a challenging workout. If you’re suffering from slept debt, everything you do feels more challenging, especially your workouts.
The Better Health Secret: Prioritize Sleep
We already know how important sleep is for our overall health. It effects our decision making, fat loss, energy levels, etc.
So how can we make sure we get the desired sleep on a consistent basis?
I have stumbled upon a very useful and easy to apply formula you can use right now to maximize your sleeping hours.
It’s called 10-3-2-1-0 formula.
This system helps you get in bed on time, improve your quality of sleep and wake up the next morning well rested and ready to crush your day.
10 hours before bed – No more caffeine.
Usually, this is the amount of time required for your body to clear the caffeine from the bloodstream and eliminate its stimulatory effects.
3 hours before bed – No more food or alcohol.
Avoid eating big meals and drinking alcohol three hours before sleep. This will help you prevent heartburn and interrupted sleep. You might feel that alcohol make you sleepy, but actually it impairs your natural sleep cycle and interrupts valuable deep sleep.
2 hours before bed – No more work.
To sleep better you need to be relaxed, so stop all work-related activities two hours before bed. No phone calls, emails, reports, etc.
1 hour before bed – No more screen time (turn off all phones, TVs, and computers).
One hour before bed turn off all electronics. The blue light emitted from the screens makes it difficult to fall asleep. In the final hour of the day enjoy reading a real book, talking to your family, meditating, taking a bath, etc. but do not use your IPhone or tablet, unless you want to stare at the ceiling for another hour.
0 – The number of times you will hit the snooze button in the morning
The last thing you should avoid comes first thing in the morning. If you wake up to the sound of an alarm, you will be tempted to hit the snooze button.
Not only will slow you down, but going back to sleep for a few minutes makes you more tired than if you had started your day immediately.
There is a simple solution to help you overcome the temptation of the snooze button. You place your alarm across the room. That makes you get up and walk a few steps before you can turn it off. By then, you’re more awake and it’s just easier to continue with your day than going back to bed.
There you have it. Now you know how important is sleep not only for our fitness goals, but for our overall health. You know what sleep deprivation leads to and how to avoid it. Use the 10-3-2-1-0 formula so you get a quality sleep consistency and get the desired physique.
I believe in you. Let’s go out and crush it.