Sleep - The Key to Fitness Success

There are few things more frustrating than a sleepless night, unfortunately we all deal with it at some point. What most people don’t understand is that chronic lack of sleep (under eight hours a night) has a huge negative impact on our bodies ability to lose body fat, maintain weight, build lean muscle mass and regulate hormonal stress levels. The truth is, even the BEST training plans will not work if sleep is neglected.

How does lack of sleep affect my fitness performance?

Leptin & Ghrelin

Lack of sleep affects levels of several important hormones. Leptin and ghrelin play an important dual role in enhancing and suppressing appetite levels. Your body’s fat cells produce Leptin, which is responsible for suppressing appetite. Ghrelin stimulates your appetite and is released by your stomach. Chronic lack of sleep lowers the levels of leptin in your bloodstream and increases the levels of ghrelin, which increases appetite. Getting enough sleep, reverses the process and decreases hunger, helping you lose body fat.

Growth Hormone

During sleep, your pituitary gland creates more growth hormones than during your waking hours. Growth hormones stimulate cell regeneration, reproduction and growth. These hormones are also aid you in building lean muscle mass. That’s why higher levels of growth hormones means an increased metabolism. With an increased metabolism, you burn energy much faster which leads to easier body fat loss.

Cortisol

Sleeplessness raises cortisol (stress hormone) levels in your blood and impairs your body’s ability to metabolize fat, protein and carbohydrates. When this ability is impaired, the body becomes very inefficient at processing glucose and it get’s stored as body fat. To make matters worse, increased cortisol interferes with your body’s ability to efficiently build muscle mass. If you are having trouble dropping body fat and building lean muscle mass, not getting enough sleep may be the reason.

Rest & Recovery

To improve your fitness performance, you have to allow your body to heal. Regular deep sleep and a day off between workouts helps your body to recuperates quickly, allowing for steady fitness results. Without enough sleep, you will stay tired and performance levels will decline. Enough sleep will allow your body to rest, recover and grow stronger.

Tips for a Great Night of Sleep...

Never Oversleep
You cannot catch up on lost sleep. Over sleeping (10+ hours) can change the body’s patterns and make it more difficult to fall asleep the following night.

Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise, tires us out and makes it easier to fall asleep.

Calm the Sleep Area
Chill music, a cool temperature and/or the white noise of a humming fan to drown out outside noise will make your bedroom more conducive to quality sleep.

Limit Caffeine.
Limit caffeine and other stimulants as much as 6 hours before bed to fall asleep faster and more deeply.
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Avoid TV & Your Devices Before Bed
If possible do not watch TV or use your devices in the hour prior to sleep or workout prior to sleeping. Relaxing a few hours prior to sleep works well for naturally preparing the body for quality sleep. Avoid watching television in bed.

Fitness success will be difficult or will take a giant backward step in your boot camp training program if you do not prioritize sleep—so, get some regular Z’s if you want to quickly get leaner, faster, and stronger.

—Big Mike

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