Sleep Better. Titles Are Dumb.
Written by: Coach Evan
Sleep. The thing we want and need most but can’t get enough of. There are plenty of reasons why we all need to get enough sleep, around 7 hours a day, and at this point if you aren’t taking sleep seriously you need to fix that. If you still need more convincing, here is another reason to add to the list:
If you are trying to change your body composition and you don’t sleep enough or get poor sleep you’re putting yourself at a huge disadvantage.
Why dial in the macros and eat as clean as ever and only get 4-5 hours of sleep? It’s like washing your car inside and out and never changing the oil or getting the motor serviced. You’ll still get somewhere, but there are too many variables to explain why your progress might slow or completely halt.
There are the obvious positives from sleeping enough: you’ll feel great and you’ll be ready to work out harder and more often. Let’s dive into other reasons why losing sleep means losing out on muscle gains and fat loss.
First up is the secretion of growth hormone (GH). You may know GH as the hormone responsible for developing size during childhood and especially puberty. You’ve probably also heard of it being used as a steroid. Your body creates it naturally and its secretion increases during sleep. Again, the longer we’re sleeping, the longer GH will be secreted and help us recover, help us rebuild the muscle, help us grow the muscle, help us get stronger.
But did you know that GH helps utilize fat as an energy source? Related to the after burn that I talked about in this article, the elevated levels of GH will help use excess fat as the energy needed for repairs, recovery, and any metabolic processes. More sleep means more GH, more GH means burning more excess fat, which means lowering body fat percentage. Has that not swayed you yet?
Important processes happen during sleep that are directly related to efficient metabolic processes or are the catalyst for those efficient processes. Lack of sleep directly decreases the effectiveness of insulin, the hormone that takes sugar out of your blood and uses it for recovery and metabolic processes. This means slower metabolic processes and more blood sugar going into storage. In laymen’s terms, the less you sleep, the slower your body with utilize energy from carbohydrates and fats, creating excess fat.
One catalyst for efficient metabolic processes is the release of a hormone called leptin, a hormone that subdues appetite. This hormone’s secretion increases during sleep. It’s safe to suggest that if you sleep less, less of this hormone will be secreted, you’ll feel hungrier, and end up eating more than you should. Pair that with your decreased insulin effectiveness and you’ve created more excess fat.
Whether your nutrition is totally dialed in or not, more and/or better sleep will push you further towards your body composition goals. If your nutrition is dialed in, even better. There are too many uncontrollable variables to knock you off track, take charge of the ones you can control. Sleep more, be healthier by creating a more efficient environment in your body, feel better, get fitter, smash goals.
If you’re interested in the science behind these ideas, check out this article: “Sleep and Metabolism: An Overview