THE POWER OF SLEEP!
You’d think weight loss was simple. Eat less and lose weight weekly. But your body is a complex mix of hormonal signals and over the long term, yes, eating less and moving more is great but in the short term results can be masked by many things. One of the main culprits is sleep.
It’s a bit of an unsexy thing to write about. We all do it. We spend nearly a third of our lives doing it. But if there’s one thing that holds people’s results back it’s this.
‘I just kept waking up in the night’
‘I couldn’t get to sleep’
‘I’m so tired’
To be frank. It’s your responsibility to improve your sleep quality. And it’s fully within your control to have a great night sleep and wake up refreshed in the morning.
In order to make sure the workout and nutrition plans are working for my clients, I’m pretty meticulous about measuring results weekly. It means that I can monitor progress and then change a variable if I need to. Whenever I get on to the topic of sleep with clients I get the feeling that they feel powerless to change the quality of their sleep – as if they are just destined to be walking zombies.
WELL YOU ARE NOT A WALKING ZOMBIE!
A study done at the University of Chicago discovered that not enough sleep can ‘hormonally handicap’ fat loss.
You see, our body changes when it can recover. We train, eat less and your body thinks ‘If this keeps happening then we need to change!’. And this change happens when we rest and recover. But if that rest is inhibited then we don’t change. And all that work in the gym, appears not to be worth it and you get demotivated.
In the 1990’s, scientists discovered a hormone called Leptin. While we don’t know too much about Leptin, we know that it has a massive effect on hunger and the way our body stores fat.
The researchers at The University of Chicago took 12 healthy men aged 22 to 30 and closely monitored their calorie intake, appetite and hunger during 2 days of ‘extended sleep’ and 2 days of ‘restricted sleep’.
When sleep was restricted, the Leptin levels dropped and appetite increased by nearly 25%. Researchers concluded that this increase was specifically for calorie dense foods – think chocolate, crisps and junk!
So how do you control your sleep? Same way as you control your diet. You manage the environment.
SHUT SCREENS DOWN AN HOUR BEFORE BED
Yes, I love technology. But staring at the screen is crazy confusing for your hormones. Mindlessly scrolling through Facebook and Instagram can wait until the morning and your body can begin winding down.
Overloading our heads with information before we go to sleep is one way to keep our brain ticking on overtime. Combine this with the LED light and you have a recipe for alertness!
I actually advise to not have any electronic devices in the bedroom.
‘WHAT!?!? NO MOBILE PHONE IN MY BEDROOM – HOW WILL I WAKE UP IN THE MORNING YOU PSYCHO?’ – You exclaim!
Stick your phone in the next room. When your alarm goes off, you’re forced to get up to turn it off.
DO A BRAIN DUMP
You know all those crazy thoughts. The ones your brain decides to shout at you as you are trying to drift off.
Maybe you’re thinking about work and all the things you have to do. Maybe you’re thinking about why on earth humans have an appendix when it doesn’t even do anything.
Whatever you are thinking about – do a brain dump.
1 hour before bed – plan the next day. Wake up time, work, what you need to get done. This will help you deal with the future and help your brain deal with those thoughts.
After that, grab another piece of paper and write. It doesn’t matter what you write, just write and get all those crazy subconscious thoughts out. This will help your brain deal with anything that’s bubbling under the surface and serves as an outlet for the crazy thoughts you have!
MAKE YOUR ROOM NICE AND DARK
The darker the room, the better the sleep. I have a lot of street lamps outside my bedroom window and the ambient light can sometimes stop me from sleeping.
Blackout curtains are the answer!
GO FOR A WEE!
Easy one – make sure you go for a wee before bed. You won’t need to get up in the night. If you do, try not to turn lights on as light can stimulate your body to release hormones that wake you up.
The take home of this is: Do whatever is in your power to get a good night sleep. If you sit up playing games on your phone or scrolling on social media right before bed then you’re doomed to poor sleep and then poor results in the gym.
This is within your control. Get it done.