Did you know that around 40% of us don’t get enough sleep? We all know the old adage that we should have at least 7 hours sleep a night but do you know why?
There is more to it than just improving your energy levels….and it ultimately boils down to just one thing – hormones! Let me explain….
When you don’t get enough sleep, you reduce or increase the secretion of a number of hormones, but these 5 are most relevant to weight management:
- Cortisol – this is your fight or flight hormone and is the hormone that is also secreted when we are stressed. Cortisol levels rise when you don’t get enough sleep and these higher cortisol levels have been shown to increase fat storage. So, if you are wanting to lose weight (which actually means losing fat in most people’s books) you certainly don’t want the increased cortisol levels that occur as a result of insufficient sleep! Even those of you that have a goal to increase muscle don’t want to be storing extra fat…you want to be converting any excess calories into muscle gains!
- Serotonin – this is your one of our “happy” hormones (along with endorphins, dopamine and oxytocin). Higher cortisol levels, caused by lack of sleep, have the knock-on effect of also causing a reduction in the secretion of serotonin. These low serotonin levels not only result in us feeling low, but also result in us craving high fat and high carb foods, which, in turn, is likely to result in us eating more calories than our body needs and our bodies gaining weight (i.e. gaining fat). Having low serotonin levels also leaves you feeling less motivated to eat well and train well; a dangerous combination that will inevitably result in gaining fat
- Testosterone – if you are aiming to gain muscle, or regenerate muscle after a heavy training session, you need testosterone. So, if secretion of testosterone is reduced (as a result of insufficient sleep) you will really struggle to achieve your goals…. if your goal is fat loss you need to reduce muscle wastage whilst being in a calorie deficit, so testosterone is key; if your goal is muscle gain you need to generate muscle growth so testosterone is key….in other words – whatever your goal, you need testosterone! And when we don’t get enough sleep there simply isn’t enough testosterone in your body
- Grehlin – this is the hormone that tells your body you are hungry and when you don’t have enough sleep the secretion of this hormone increases. In other words, when you don’t get enough sleep your body tells you that you need more calories than you actually do…you are likely to over-eat and as a result you will gain weight
- Leptin – this works in opposition to grehlin; it is the hormone that tells you that you are full! But a lack of sleep reduces the secretion of leptin (alongside increasing the secretion of grehlin). This further adds to the negative impact of grehlin, and means you eat more calories than your body needs and you gain weight!
In addition to the impact of hormones, your body and mind also need enough sleep to reduce muscle fatigue, increase stamina, increase your energy and motivation levels (meaning you get more from your training sessions), reduce your blood pressure, reduce the effects of ageing, increase your memory, maintain your metabolic rate (the number of calories you consume at rest)…..and the list goes on!
Aim for at least 7 hours sleep per night, be consistent in your bedtime and waking time and watch how your goals become so much easier to achieve!
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