It’s common knowledge (hopefully) that if you want to lose fat you need to eat healthy and train hard, avoid junk food/soft drink and drink lots of water. However there is another thing that trumps all of these others factors to help you get the best results ever therefore losing more fat.
It’s called sleep.
This is something we tell our clients all the time and it’s something that we as humans living in the 21st century are far too complacent with.
The way society is these days our minds/egos think that we’re highly evolved creatures yet our physiology on the other hand hasn’t changed that much since the days of the Stone Age. Our bodies are programmed to want to sleep when it’s dark and wake when it’s bright. Now this is a time of roughly seven to ten hours. Now listen closely to this.. If optimal health and fitness is your main priority then you should be getting at least seven hours of sleep each and every night.
How Is Sleep So Important For Fat Loss?
Glad you asked! Every single one of our bodily functions relies on our sleep. Everything from regulating our blood pressure to the lack or demand of sugar cravings, quality sleep is essential to the body in order to lose fat. Our bodies interpret lack of sleep as stress, and as amazing even as amazingly brilliant as the human body is.. it cannot tell the difference between stress from work, stress from poor sleep or stress from being chased by a sabre toothed tiger.
Stress is stress in the body. The body’s response to stress is to release chemicals, in particular, adrenaline and cortisol into your bloodstream.Your body looks at stress as a warning to get ready to fight to survive, so it signals the hormones that help you jam in more food for energy to help you fight.
Now this one is the real bummer! These exact hormones also tell your body to retain as much fat as possible to store it because it doesn’t know how long you need to fight for. So, you’re now hungrier than ever, therefore you’re eating more, and as a result you’re putting on body fat. All because you have a bunch of stuff on… or you have to watch the whole of season 2 Stranger things on Netflix in one night!
Now we don’t live under a rock we understand that most of us have some huge days at work or university, and then wind up working/studying into the early hours of the morning against the clock, meanwhile your body is screaming out for sleep. But of course you keep working and tell your body, “Sorry, there’s no time for sleep now. We got work to do.”
Your body does not appreciate this neglect. it responds in the only way it knows how, it starts demanding the easiest and most accessible source of energy it knows…. sugar. The reason your body craves these useless empty calories for quick energy is because of the stress and excess energy demand you’re asking of it. Your body is sitting there lie, “We got no time for sleep? okay then, give me that red bull and packed of lollies then, and I’ll give you the energy you require to get that assignment/document done!”
Have No Fear Sleep, The Stress Killer Is Here
Stress hormones cause hunger and weight gain. What’s one of the best ways to combat stress? Sleep! When you sleep, your body finally has a chance to reset itself and recover. Your hormone levels regulate, and all is right with the world.
When you are under stress, your body is not out to get you. If anything, it’s protecting you. When you’re pounding energy drinks or cookies simply to stay awake, your body thinks you’re fighting to survive. It responds by storing all that sugar as fat, thinking lean times are coming and it has to stock up.
Given plenty of quality sleep, your body knows you’re safe and not in danger of starving to death in the near future—so it no longer needs to keep that stored fat. The stress response stops, and your body feels comfortable burning fat for energy instead of keeping it for an emergency.
Bottom line, when you don’t sleep, you don’t lose weight. I’ve seen it in literally hundreds of clients. You can do everything else right, but without enough sleep, your body won’t release the fat you’ve stored simply because it’s trying to keep you alive!
It’s Not Just About Fat Loss
Sleep is essential to your health in every way possible, from helping you achieve optimal athletic performance, to supporting your immune system helping you to not get sick. While you’re asleep, your body is able to repair itself at a cellular level. Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror after staying up late or just being absolutely exhausted after a poor nights sleep and said “my god i look like s#!t”? Yeah? Well that’s because your body was not able to get the rest it needed to perform the cellular maintenance that’s required to keep you looking and feeling your best.
Everything from your skin, to your hair, your nails, and your attention span all will be better by getting more and/or better quality sleep. Now I don’t know about you guys but I definitely want to be able to think as clearly as possible. Not to mention look best every single day (I need as much help as possible on this one) Ladies quality sleep can even help get rid of cellulite. I can’t stress enough how a good night’s sleep can improve literally every aspect of daily function, this is why sleep is 1000% one of the biggest rules of fat loss.
FAQs From our Clients
What If I Work Shift Work/Odd Hours?
With your sleep, you don’t have a choice your body needs it. If it’s possible to grab sneaky mid-shift nap, getting fully light-blocking curtains or even a face mask if you sleep during the daytime, or going to bed early so that you can wake up for an early-morning shift, your health should always come first.
How Can You Get Better Quality Sleep?
Improving the quality and amount of sleep you get usually depends on creating good habits. We live in a world where we can if we want/need have light 24/7, this creates havoc with our internal circadian rhythms.
Develop a sleep-encouraging bedtime routine:
Going to bed at roughly the same time every night.
Turn off the TV and all other tech at least 1 hour before bedtime.
if you can turn down the lighting in your home as it gets closer to bedtime. By gradual darkening your world it tells your body that it’s time to sleep.
Keep your phone in another room or set it to Do Not Disturb. Don’t risk being awakened by the a late night/early morning text message or FaceBook notification from your friend who’s health isn’t as important to them as it is to you.
Invest in a good quality mattress (I CAN’T VOUCH FOR THIS ONE ENOUGH!!).
Do things that helps you relax before bed, wether that’s running a hot bath, doing some restful yoga poses/stretching, or meditating.
Take Away: Sleep should be your absoulte first priority if you’re trying to lose fat. We say this because there is no amount of training or good nutrition that can replace good quality sleep. So priorities your sleep, because only a well rested body can lose fat as it doesn’t need excess and it can therefore be the best it can be.