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Sleep Deprivation And Weight Loss

You may recall that adequate sleep and recovery is one of the 7 essential components of fat loss. Without enough sleep your body stays in an on-going catabolic state where hormonal imbalances block fat loss.

As a double whammy you’ll also be more likely to gain weight. Recent research shows that individuals who do not get enough sleep are 73% more likely to be overweight than those getting 7-8 hours per night. This is huge.

In today’s post I’m going to explain why this happens along with providing you some tips on how to improve your sleep patterns. Your health and body composition hinges on sufficient rest and recovery. If you are having problems sleeping due to snoring check out this review for the best travel CPAP machines.

Sam Elliott’s famous quote in the movie Roadhouse “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” may have sounded cool but in the real world you’ll just get there quicker. You can only push the human body so hard for so long before things start to break down.

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If you’re currently not getting enough sleep this needs to be your top priority. Sure exercise and a healthy diet are important, but if you’re not getting adequate rest and recovery you won’t be able to improve your health or your waistline.

Let’s start by looking at the hormonal shifts that occur when you don’t get enough sleep so you can really understand what’s going on here.

Sleep deprivation and ghrelin

Ghrelin is a hormone secreted by the stomach to stimulate hunger. There is a natural ebb and flow of ghrelin levels that happen through the day in response to blood sugar levels.

When blood sugar levels and energy reserves start to drop, ghrelin is secreted to signal your brain that it’s time to start looking for food. As a built in primal response ghrelin serves an important function in helping the body to sustain energy and nutrition.

The problem is when we alter the normal hormonal patterns and start signaling for more food when the body doesn’t really need it. You’ll often hear me relate to this as being “false hunger.”

When you go without adequate sleep your body significantly increases ghrelin production. This totally throws off your true hunger signals during the following day and causes you to crave sugary or salty foods.

Bottom line is the more you alter normal hormonal balances the more likely you are to binge eat and make unhealthy choices.

Sleep deprivation and leptin

Leptin is the sister hormone to ghrelin which sends signals indicating your full. When you’re in a state of sleep deprivation, leptin levels will plummet.

The combination of increasing grehlin levels and lowered leptin levels is the one-two punch that makes it so easy to gain weight if you’re regularly not getting enough sleep.

Sleep deprivation and cortisol levels

Without question one of the most common triggers of chronic stress is not getting enough sleep. You have to remember that if you’re not getting deep REM sleep your body isn’t able to get into what’s called an anabolic state.

This is where hormones like testosterone, IGF-1, growth hormone, and others are secreted to help rebuild and repair at the cellular level.

When you don’t get enough sleep you stay stuck in a catabolic state which results in an overproduction of cortisol by the adrenals. Perpetually elevated levels of cortisol creates a cascading series of hormonal imbalances affecting nearly every part of the endocrine system.

Insulin sensitivity goes down, testosterone levels go down, growth hormone decreases, thyroid production drops, and the list goes on. Left unchecked you’ll be on the path towards adrenal fatigue and eventually total adrenal exhaustion.

Chronic stress is the primary cause of increased inflammation in the body which is at the root of all illness and disease.

It’s the hidden killer as you can’t see the damage that’s being done often time until it’s too late. The evidence of damage is not always visible in a person being overweight or appearing unfit.

We’re often surprised to hear of the man or woman who looked relatively fit and healthy dropping dead of a heart attack. It’s what you couldn’t see going on inside that lead to a premature death.

Pushing hard, working long hours, and living off of coffee and 5 hour energy drinks is asking for trouble. It doesn’t matter how much you exercise. I’ve known lots of guys who ran several miles each day but didn’t sleep much and put in long hours at the office that had heart attacks.

The real culprit in the majority of all these cases, chronic stress and the resulting inflammation.

Sleep deprivation and age

While lifestyle factors certainly contribute to sleep deprivation so does age and the natural hormonal declines that come with it. A person the age of 20 gets on average 100 minutes of deep sleep each night. By the time they reach age 50 they’ll get on average 20 minutes of deep sleep each night.

Anyone who is over 50 will tell you they just don’t sleep through the night like they used to. While hormonal shifts are largely the reason why, there are ways to offset it.

Exercise, primarily burst training routines which stimulate testosterone and growth hormone are very effective at helping to improve sleep as you get older. Resistance training to work the muscle is essential as cardio alone will do little to increase these hormones.

This is especially true for individuals who do a lot of long-slow-distance type cardio. In fact when a lot of aerobic exercise is performed in combination with sleep deprivation, chronic stress and cellular inflammation is increased dramatically.

More is not always better with exercise. You want some aerobic exercise such as walking, but more important is the short-duration, high intensity bursts of all-out effort.

Bottom line

Sleep deprivation is typically at the core of reasons for why an individual is stuck being unable to change their body composition. If you’re not getting enough sleep you won’t be successful in any exercise program.

Individuals who don’t see results with exercise will often resort to low-calorie dieting but once again that only increases chronic stress. It’s a vicious cycle and all the exercise and dieting in the world won’t fix it. Chances are you’ll only make the situation worse. It’s all about balance.

Consider this….a person goes into a pre-diabetic state with just six days of sleep deprivation. You may avoid seeing problems for a while but sooner or later you’ll see sleep deprivation manifest itself in illness of disease.

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If you’re currently not getting enough sleep here are my top tips to help you reverse the situation.

Exercise using burst training principals to optimize hormonal balances.

You’ll want to do this 3-4 times per week for best results.

Follow a Primal Blueprint type diet

Get out all the processed and refined foods. God’s foods make you well, man-made foods will rob your health.

Get a grip on chronic stress in your life

Create balance no matter what it takes. It’s too important not to. Stress at work or at home may be something out of your control, but not how you respond to it. You have the ability to control whether or not you let stress steal your health.

If you have to overhaul your entire life, do it! That may mean making sacrifices, getting rid of caustic and negative people in your life, making less money by putting in fewer hours, etc.

At the end of the day you’ll have to determine what’s most important in your life. Let me be blunt, putting your health at the bottom of the list is doing a disservice to your family and loved ones.

Take the TV out of the bedroom

There are numerous studies that have shown how watching TV in bed can significantly alter sleep patterns. Instead of watching TV in bed, read a book instead, just install ladder shelf, so you can always keep there book or some nice candle. Look for ways to slowly bring yourself down instead of racing through the evening and jumping in bed to try and go to sleep.

Drink chamomile tea before going to bed

My personal favorite is Yogi brand “bed-time” tea. It’s got a natural sweet taste and can help you with night-time sugar cravings. The blend of chamomile and other herbs helps to bring you down and make you sleepy.

Don’t go to bed hungry

You’re much better off eating a small snack than going to be starving. Falling blood sugar levels will trigger cortisol secretion making you wake up through the night. For a good night’s rest you’ll want to avoid the sharp falls in blood sugar.

A good snack before going to bed will be protein and/or fiber-fat based. Think things like nuts, seeds, a protein shake, etc.

Avoid eating starches at dinner

You’ll sleep best when you’ve had some lean protein and fibrous vegetables for dinner. The excess blood sugar created by eating starches at dinner drives up insulin levels which one again affects cortisol secretion.

If you’re going to eat starches do it with breakfast of lunch. You’ll also want to avoid eating sugary snacks for this same reason. Flooding your body with sugar is a sure-fire way to disrupt sleep.

Avoid excessive alcohol at night

A glass of wine is fine but once you start getting into excessive alcohol you’re going to disrupt the hormonal balances and affect sleep. Contrary to popular belief, having several drinks before bed doesn’t really help you get “true” sleep.

Sure you may pass out but you won’t be spending much time in REM sleep. Excessive alcohol only perpetuates a catabolic state by stopping the release of anabolic hormones like testosterone and growth hormone.

Set times for sleep and awakening

One of the most common mistakes people make is not getting on a regular sleep cycle. Set a time to go to bed and when you’ll wake up. Set an alarm if you have to in the beginning.

When you first do this you may lie in bed staring at the ceiling because you can’t go to sleep. But with some time your body will get on a regular schedule and you’ll find that you can fall right asleep at your regular time and awaken without an alarm.

When problems persist consider a sleep study

There are a lot of things that can cause sleep apnea which will prevent you from getting REM sleep. When you continue struggling with sleep after making lifestyle changes, don’t hesitate to be checked for sleep apnea.

I’ve had several clients over the years see dramatic improvements after receiving treatment for their sleep apnea. After reading the cpap machine reviews I was apprehensive and embarrassed but I kept reading and let the potential benefits sink in. Using a sleep machine may be awkward and uncomfortable at first, but if it could significantly improve your health and how you feel, I think you’d agree it’d be worth it.

Whatever it takes my friends, find a way to get adequate sleep. Six hours is the minimum with 7-8 hours being optimal. Get on a natural cycle of being catabolic during the day and anabolic during the night, the way the human body was designed to function.

Staying catabolic is a recipe for trouble every time. Don’t let excuses get in your way, find a way to ensure you’re able to get rest and recovery. This is your health we’re talking about.

Shane Doll is a certified personal trainer, fat loss expert, speaker, and founder of Shaping Concepts Fitness Training Studios. If you’re looking for a fitness trainer in Charleston, you can receive a FREE, no-obligations (2) session trial and consultation without risking a dime. Over 1000 Charleston area residents have transformed their bodies following our unique burst training workouts and simplified nutrition programs.

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Category: Hormones & Health.