By: Madison Winston (NASM-CPT)
Feel like you’re doing everything right and still not seeing results? You’ve been eating healthy and crushing your workouts and nothing?
Surprisingly, sleep might be your answer.
Sleep is one of the most underrated components of wellness. It controls our entire body and without enough it can prevent us from reaching our goals.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults get 7-9 hours of sleep a night. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 34.8 percent of American adults are not getting enough sleep. A lack of sleep can lead to obesity, stress, diabetes, high blood pressure, mental exhaustion, slow muscle recovery, and poor decision making.
According to a Mayo Clinic study, sleep deprived adults ate on average, 549 extra calories PER DAY! If this happened every day for a week, that adds up to a pound a week. To make it even worse, most of these calories tend to be in the form of empty carbs and fat, providing little nutritional value.
So, why does this happen? Your body has two hunger hormones: leptin and ghrelin. Leptin tells your body when it is full and ghrelin signals hunger. When sleep deprived, your body produces less leptin and more ghrelin, meaning you fell hungry more often and your body doesn’t signal feelings of fullness. Think about it…last time you were tired, did you reach for some vegetables? Probably not. When we’re tired we tend to reach for refined sugar and carbs to give us that quick “energy boost”. While these foods provide a short energy burst, the sugar crash after is much more apparent.
Sleep doesn’t only influence eating and weight, it can also affect workouts. One way is obvious and we’ve all done it before. You can pack your workout bag the night before but when that morning alarm goes off, all drive to go to that morning workout vanishes. We’ve all hit the snooze button before to avoid getting out of bed. Or, if you had a long day at work without getting enough sleep the night before, a workout can seem daunting and like the last thing we want to do. If you get enough sleep the night before, you will have more energy the whole next day and it will be easier to wake up for that workout or to exercise after work. Your workouts will also be more effective. In addition, you will be more mentally aware and productive at work, making it easier to focus and complete tasks.
Need another reason to get some more ZZZ’s? Sleep also helps aid the muscle recovery process, making it easier to workout again after a tough workout. During the REM sleep cycle, the body performs mechanisms that restore muscles and promote recovery. So, getting enough sleeps helps you recover from your tough workout the day before and helps you be ready for another one the next day – sounds like a win!
Need to reset your sleep schedule? At first this may seem impossible, but over time your body will get used to a new routine. Start by relaxing an hour before you want to fall asleep. Try reading a book, meditating, turning off your phone, or listening to some relaxing music. The blue light from your phone and technology screens reduces the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep cycle. Using electronics at night reduces melatonin, making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Do yourself a favor and treat sleep the same you would your diet or workout – your future self will thank you!
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