Do you find yourself telling people “I’m not a morning person,” or do you wake up feeling groggy and need a coffee to wake up?

That’s total bullsh*t! Nobody is born a morning person!

You make yourself a morning person! Everyone is entitled to a good night’s sleep, but as with everything in life, you can’t just expect it to happen, you have to make it happen.

But I’m sure you’re wondering why we need to sleep well in order to lose fat? How can sleep and fat loss be linked? Isn’t fat loss based on food and exercise?

The truth is, sleeping badly wreaks havoc with your appetite, immune system and hormones, plus it also stops you from recovering properly, especially if you’re working out.

Let’s take a look at these in a little more detail…

Why a Good Night’s Sleep Is so Important

Sleep is when your body recovers and repairs itself – we all know that, but there’s more to it than that!

During sleep, your body is repairing itself on a cellular level. When sleeping, your body repairs damaged tissue. Your central nervous system (effectively the supercomputer that runs your body) also recovers overnight.

Think about this for a second…

You wouldn’t take your car in for a service and then drive the car out halfway through the process would you? This is what you’re effectively doing by not getting enough sleep.

You also wouldn’t hire a terrible mechanic to work on your car. This is basically what you’re doing if you’re getting a restless and disturbed nights sleep.

This might not answer why sleep can make us fat, but we’re getting to that now!

How Can Lack of Sleep Make Us Fat?

Sleep impacts your hormones. Hormones are chemical signals which are act like messengers in your body, telling it to do certain things. Hormones have a huge impact on your body: they can make you grow, they can make you feel sexually aroused and they can even make you feel hungry.

Consistent lack of sleep has been found to increase the hormone Ghrelin, the hormone that makes you feel hungry! It also decreases the hormone Leptin, which tells your body its full and satisfied.[1] This hormonal one-two punch makes you feel starving hungry all the time!

So, less sleep means more hunger! Not ideal if you’re trying to stick to a calorie restricted diet then.

This has been backed up by a recent study, which found test subjects low on sleep wanted 600 calories more food than those who had a full night’s sleep![2]

Lack of sleep also means you don’t recover properly and feel tired, meaning you’re far less likely to hit the gym or go for that 30-minute run. Even if you do some exercise, lack of sleep will mean your performance will be worse and you will probably burn less calories as a result.

The final key point is that your immune system can become deficient with lack of sleep, meaning you can’t fight off illness effectively.

What happens when we get ill?

We can’t train properly (or can’t train at all) and as a result our metabolism slows, we burn less calories, and we stop making progress and can put on fat as a result.

So now we know that a good night’s sleep is essential to hitting our fitness goals, let’s look at how to improve sleep quality.

How Much Sleep Do I Need?

It is now common knowledge that we need 7-8 hours sleep per night as healthy adults.

But that’s not just 7-8 hours spent in your bedroom, that’s 7-8 hours of quality sleep. You’ll know if you’ve had 7-8 hours of quality sleep as you will wake up refreshed and feeling awesome!

How to Improve Sleep Quality

There are tons of factors that affect how you sleep. Here’s the key thing you need to do in order to get a good night’s sleep:

  1. Avoid caffeine after 4pm. We know caffeine makes us alert and feel awake, but did you know that it stays in your system for 6 hours? That means you need to avoid coffee, pre-workout and fizzy drinks in the evening if you want to sleep better.
  2. De-stress before bed. A lot of people struggle to sleep because their mind is racing with worries when they go to bed. You need to find something to take you mind off these worries. Put away your laptop and mobile phone and instead try reading, yoga or meditation before bed. We’ve tried it and it works!
  3. Get into a routine. Go to bed at roughly the same time every night, and do the same things before bed each night. This gets your body ready to sleep each night as it knows what to expect.
  4. Reduce fluid consumption after 8pm. You don’t want to wake up halfway through the night needing a pee. Nothing disturbs a night’s sleep more than this! Stop drinking so much at night and avoid diuretics (things that make you need to pee) before bed (such as coffee and tea).
  5. Avoid distractions. At the very least put your mobile phone on silent and face it down, although off is best. How do you think you are going to sleep well if you’re constantly glancing at your lighting up/vibrating phone! If it’s particularly noisy where you sleep (or your partner snores) we also recommend getting a set of ear plugs – they’re cheap and do the trick.
  6. Improve your sleeping environment. Don’t settle for a sub-par sleeping environment. Sleep is so important and the effects of consistently poor sleep can ruin your life in the long run! Have a comfy bed and quality pillows (you can get a memory foam mattress topper for just £40, so no excuses), and make sure it’s completely dark (no standby lights on devices or lights on).
  7. Avoid screens and mobile devices before bed. It’s thought that the use of backlit screens (those on your mobile, tv & laptop) prevent your body releasing the chemicals essential to help you nod off at night. Although this is still a subject of debate, we have found this to be the case ourselves and recommend you stop using these devices one hour before bed.
  8. Supplement with ZMA. Having healthy magnesium levels is important for quality sleep. Stress can deplete your magnesium levels (and who isn’t stressed these days), so taking a magnesium-containing supplement is thought to help with sleep. We take ZMA every night and have noticed a significant improvement in sleep quality.

Put all these tips into practice and reap the fat-busting rewards from a good night’s sleep. Plus, don’t forget that sleeping well makes you feel awesome!

References

[1] Sleep – the forgotten elixir

[2] The impact of sleep deprivation on food desire in the human brain