If you’re trying to lose fat by following fancy diets, hitting the gym multiple times a week and popping all the latest fat burner supplements, you are focusing on the wrong thing.
Did you know, one of the best ways to lose excess body fat levels is through quality sleep? If you’re struggling to sleep, be sure to check out my FREE sleep tips by heading to THIS page.
What Happens During A Good Nights Sleep
In a healthy body, the following happens during a solid 7-9 hour sleep:
- After 4 hours of sleep in darkness (you shouldn’t be able to see your hand in front of your face when sleeping), melatonin is produced.
- Melatonin causes leptin to be released.
- Leptin is a hormone in the body that has powerful effects on hunger and feelings of fullness. When you eat, the body releases leptin. Increased levels of leptin reduce your appetite. Great.
- Leptin at night enters the hypothalamus, in turn, the thyroid is up regulated, your metabolism increases, growth hormone is released, and the body burns fat.
- Excess energy that has been consumed during the day will simply be burnt off as heat.
A good, deep sleep can have a similar energy expenditure effect as going to the gym.
But sleep is so much better on the body than a strenuous gym session – simply because sleep is restorative to your health, you are in an anabolic state. Compared to the stressful catabolic state you encounter while training.
What Happens After a Bad Nights Sleep?
Everyone has experienced a bad nights sleep, you wake up feeling groggy and lethargic. Reaction times are slow, your brain feels sluggish and you’re not a happy person.
But there is a lot more that happens to the body after a bad nights sleep. In fact, one poor nights sleep can negatively impact the body’s insulin sensitivity. All that hard work following a strict diet can be undone by one bad sleep!
Thats not all however, heres what happens from a hormonal point of view after a night of bad sleep:
- The body increases production of ghrelin, which stimulates appetite and down regulates the feeling of fullness (i.e. lower leptin levels)
- Increased cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone. Excess cortisol can lead to thyroid issue, low testosterone, increased fluid retention and weight gain.
- Decreased testosterone (testosterone burns fat in both men and women)
- Lowered sensitivity to dopamine, serotonin, and neurotransmitters (less ‘feel good’ feelings), leading to depression. Also, when you are low in these hormones, the body craves sugary foods for a ‘pick me up’ dopamine boost.
- Decreased reaction time, strength, and power
How Much Sleep Is Required?
Everyone has different sleep requirements. Hard training athletes need more than sedentary workers with non-stimulating jobs.
When I coach my clients I generally recommend about 7-9 hours of solid quality sleep (tossing and turning is not solid sleep).
I have my clients wear an Oura Ring sleep tracker that is the most accurate sleep wearable on the market. I want them hitting a sleep score of 80% or higher, with ideally 15% or higher in Deep and REM sleep states.
If you’re only getting 6 hours of sleep at night, ensure you have a 45minute nap during the day as you can undo some of the damage through short naps.
Prioritise your Sleep
Next time you wake up after a horrible nights sleep with the intention of going to that 6am class, skip it. Sleep for an extra hour instead.
In fact, with my fat loss clients, I have them take a few weeks off from the gym at the beginning of the program. This ensures they can fix their sleep habits and work on their diet, while giving the body some much needed rest.
If you are looking for some FREE advice on how to improve your sleep, be sure to head to THIS page to access my free sleep tips. These are extremely powerful tips that I have used with clients all around the world. You can access them by clicking here.
For more on sleep, be sure to head to my website at www.AlexFergus.com were I have numerous articles on sleep.
Also, for more on my coaching program, head to THIS page.