Obtaining quality sleep is likely the greatest obstacle most of us encounter in our efforts to reduce fat, become active, and become healthy.
The majority of us believe that we sleep well, but in reality, we have grown used to having bad sleep habits and are no longer aware of what it feels like to constantly have good sleep. In the end, we're denying our bodies the chance they so desperately need to recover and rejuvenate!
Our bodies are naturally designed to follow the sun’s cycle, something known as our circadian rhythm. Following our natural sleep/wake cycles (this changes with the seasons), we should be up and raring to go when the sun rises at 6:30am and bedding down as the sun sets and asleep circa 10:30pm. By day, light stimulates cortisol (stress hormone) production and signals time for activity. Come night-time, decreasing cortisol should allow for the release of melatonin and an increase in the levels of growth and repair hormones, time to sleep.
When sleep is disrupted during the night (even if only very briefly!), cortisol is produced, and growth and repair hormone production is suppressed. Being that growth hormone is crucial for the growth and repair of muscles this is not good news, especially if you exercise.
It doesn't matter how amazing your workout was today if you don't give your body the opportunity to grow and mend with a night of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep tonight! Increased training = necessitates more restful sleep.
Sleep impacts metabolism as well. One week of insufficient sleep causes our bodies to become less efficient at metabolising carbohydrates, to mismanage insulin, and we become primed for fat storage. Inadequate sleep and excessive carbohydrate consumption (the reality for many people!) is the ideal combo for fat storage.
Some simple strategies to improve sleep are:
Try and get to bed at the same time every night
Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night
Be asleep by 11pm every night
Make your room dark and quiet
Avoid caffeine after 4pm
Switch off your mobile!
Turn off TV, wireless and anything else that emits radiation
We help our members with a nutritional programme that works for them, if you’re struggling, give us a shout at our gym or try out our personal training in Colchester and we’ll help you work out a plan that suits you.