Do you know that better sleep can accelerate the rate at which you lose fat?
We all know that there are two effective ways of losing body fat. We can do it by increasing physical activity and secondly by reducing our calorie intake. These two ways are okay and work fine for most people. But, have you ever followed a strict fitness regimen, trained hard, ate clean but with little to no results?
In this article, I’m going to show you why getting enough sleep in an important factor that affects your rate of fat loss. You’ll learn why you must optimize your sleep for faster fat loss and for permanent results at the gym. Getting insufficient sleep will hinder your fat loss progress if you focus on food and exercise alone.
Less Sleep Affects Fat Loss
Diet is the most common strategy used for weight loss/ fat loss for most overweight or obese people. But, research shows that the results are not as effective when these people get less sleep while cutting calories.
One study published shows that cutting back on sleep reduces the benefits of dieting by 55 per cent. When dieters got full night sleep more than half the weight they lost was fat. When they cut back on their sleep, only 1/4 of the weight loss was from fat.
If your goal is to lose fat, not getting enough sleep is a guarantee that fat loss will not be achievable for you. Don’t ignore the way you sleep when changing your eating plan with the goal of shedding fat.
Getting enough sleep may enhance the beneficial effects of any diet you might be trying. Another study shows that getting less sleep affects efforts to shed fat.
Get Enough Sleep
In today’s fast-paced world where most people are working long hours to cater for their families, it’s easy to focus on work and skimp on sleep. Some people are proud of being able to survive on only four hours of sleep per night. If you’re among the 4-hour sleep group, you’re doing a huge disservice to your long-term health and productivity.
Pulling all-nighters will not improve your productivity at all. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night will make you more productive during the day because you’ll be better able equipped to focus and concentrate on the task at hand.
Sleep is like food for the brain. It rests, relaxes and rejuvenates us to perform at peak levels for a longer duration. We all need at least 8 hours of sleep per night. If you’re getting less than 8 hours of sleep, you will be less productive and you will lack the will to resist tempting sugary foods and snacks. You will crave junk food more and your will power will be at its lowest.
How Sleep Affects Cortisol Levels
Lack of sleep will trigger the production of cortisol during your waking hours. Cortisol is a stress hormone that makes you hold on to fat around your midsection.
Sleep deprivation affects the production and effectiveness of insulin. This hormone breaks down sugars and starches to produce energy. When this hormone is not functioning well it develops insulin resistance. Insulin resistance means your body is not responding well to insulin. Thus it has trouble processing fat from your bloodstream. This fat accumulates and results in weight gain in the most unlikely places
How to Sleep Smarter.
In the book Sleep Smarter by Shawn Stevenson, the author outlines 21 strategies to help you have a restful and refreshing sleep. Better sleep will translate to better results in your fat loss goals. This does not mean you only need to sleep to shed fat. It is a crucial factor but it must work in tandem with diet and exercise to get you to your fitness or fat loss goal.
The 21 strategies are a lot and hard to put in place all at once. But, I’ve found it easy to pick one strategy and work on making it a habit. After mastering the one strategy, pick another and keep at it until it becomes automatic.
Below are my top 10 strategies out of the 21 you can start implementing today to improve your sleep and by extension your fat loss. You can get Shawn’s book for a detailed breakdown of the strategies and the science behind each or read his article.
So, to have a restful and rejuvenating sleep:
- Know the value of sleep. High quality sleep strengthens your immune system, balances your hormones, and boosts your metabolism. It also increases your physical energy and improves the function of your brain.
- Get more sunlight during the day. Getting more light during the day, less light at night is the magic sleep formula.
- Avoid the screen. Computers, iPads, televisions, smartphones emit blue light that can cause major sleep problems. Avoid staring at your device late into the night.
- Have a caffeine curfew. Don’t drink caffeinated drinks close to bedtime.
- Get to bed at the right time. Have a sleep schedule and stick to it.
- Be cool. Your bedroom should not be too hot or too cold. Cooler temperatures promote resting sleep.
- Use high-quality magnesium. It will help reduce stress levels and thus better the quality of your sleep.
- Create a sleep sanctuary. Your bedroom is for sleeping. Don’t bring into your bedroom.
- Train hard but smart. When your muscles are tired from an intense session at the gym, you’re more likely to fall asleep faster and sleep through the night.
- Get your “friends” out of your room. Keep all electronic devices out of your bedroom. Working on your laptop late into the night and then trying to sleep soon after won’t be easy.
- Have a high protein low carbohydrate snack close to going to bed. The amino acids in the protein can help sleep better.
Applying the strategies above will ensure you’re able to sleep better to lose fat. If you ever wake up after 8 hours of sleep but still feel tired, that’s a sign that you need to re-engineer your sleep. Figure out the reason behind your tiredness before it starts affecting other important areas of your life.
So, are you getting enough sleep so as not to interfere with your fat loss efforts?