You may have heard of the saying Train. Eat. Sleep. In my opinion sleep is the most crucial aspect not just for your training goals, but for general health and well being.
It is during our sleep where our body is allowed time to rest and recover. Several important processes happen to your body while you sleep. The bottom line is not getting enough sleep will virtually make it impossible for you to either gain muscle or lose body fat. Sleep is not only important for your training goals but crucial for your health. Lack of sleep has been linked to Hypertension, increased stress hormones and an irregular heart beat.
A recent study from Amercia showed that adults who were getting less than 5 hours sleep were more likely to be overweight. More importantly children who were getting less than 10 hours sleep were putting on weight at a rapid pace! The reason for this alarming link between sleep debt and weight gain, is due to the fact that sleep effects many important hormones in the body. Lack of sleep lowers the levels of leptin in your blood and heightens the levels of ghrelin, which results in an increase of appetite. The reverse is also true, getting enough sleep decreases hunger and will therefore help you lose weight.
As mentioned before lack of sleep dramatically increases the stress hormone cortisol. Higher levels of cortisol lead to a lower metabolism. Getting 8 hours sleep will lower cortisol levels and allow to lose body fat and build lean muscle.
The problem for many people is that they find falling asleep hard and become restless. I myself had this trouble and put several measures in place to help this:
- Firstly I started eating a tiny bit of carbohydrates before bed, ignore the no carbs before bed myth. Carbs in fact encourage the brain to release serotonin, which helps the body relax and regulates sleep.
- I also take 400mg of magnesium before bed, this mineral is great for relaxing the nervous system and helps you switch off.
- Make sure your room is at a cool temperature and not too hot. Also your room should be pitch black. Think of it as a bat cave!
- 30 minutes before bed try and stop watching tv and turn off your laptop. Try listening to some music in your bat cave.
Above I have attached a video from Scott Robinson on the importance of sleep. Scott is one of the most highly educated guys in the UK, and holds a Doctoral Research degree. He works with many top sports clubs and elite athletes to get the best out of them.