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The Missing Link to Your Health: PT 2

By November 11, 2015Adult Fitness

In the first post of this series, I discussed why sleep might be the culprit for your lack of progress, and tips to get more of it. As I’ve read more research about sleep (this article references 117 studies!) and worked with more clients over time, I’ve become more and more of a believer in it’s importance for a healthy and aesthetic body. Training and nutrition are still the MOST important elements, but we can’t discount sleep’s possible impact. In accordance with this, here are even more reasons why you should be taking your sleep schedule more seriously than you currently are.

Less Sleep, More Hunger

Our hormones play a role in dictating both our hunger and satiety. To make losing fat and staying lean easier, in an ideal world our bodies will release more of the hormones that increase satiety, and less of the ones that increase our appetite. These hormone levels do not override the nutrition choices we make, but they do play a part in making our decisions easier. One lifestyle factor that influences these hormone levels is- you guessed it- sleep! Studies have shown a significant drop in one of these appetite controlling hormones (leptin) when sleep is restricted. The next time you have a poor night’s sleep, take notice of how your hunger compares to a day after an average night’s sleep.

Sleep Less, Move Less

How do you feel after a poor night’s sleep? Are you filled with energy? Do you have the urge to move around more than is absolutely necessary, more than you normally would? Probably not. If you have less energy during the day, you are going to move less. You’ll have less motivation to get up from your desk, off the couch- you’ll even fidget less. Believe it or not, all of this movement you’re forgoing is a missed opportunity to burn more calories. Yes, even fidgeting contributes in a small way to your calories burned and energy used for the day!

Less energy also means reduced quality of your workouts in the gym. Rather than giving it you all for 45-60 minutes you might just go through the motions, lifting less total weight and burning fewer than calories than if you’d had a well-rested bout.

Compensating with Food

Aside from increased hunger from a drop in leptin, if you sleep less you’ll probably end up eating more food because of one or a multitude of the following:

  • Trying to Keep Focus: when we’re tired, we sometimes eat more food than we crave, simply hoping the extra food will supply extra energy
  • More Hours Awake Means More Opportunities to Eat
  • Attempting to Improve the Quality of Your Day: less rest usually means a crankier, less upbeat attitude. What’s an easy way to try to make ourselves feel better? Munch on something tasty!
  • Allocation of Will Power: our will power is finite. When we devote more of it to staying awake and being productive in a sleep-deprived fog, we have less to devote towards making healthy nutrition choices.

Sleep affects the quality of your mood, body, and your entire day in general. We might take the perspective of “Life is precious. Why spend 1/3 of it asleep?”. We could just as easily counter that with “Life is precious. Why ruin a whole day by not getting enough sleep?” If you miss out on a good night’s sleep consistently, you can reduce the enjoyment of a string of days for weeks, months, and years! Good sleep isn’t just helpful for your health and appearance- it can improve your quality of life!

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