Sleep is incredibly important. One can simply look at the evolutionary favor that humans have had over thousands of years for spending a significant amount of each day asleep, and see that we just cannot thrive without good sleep.
Sleep impacts our weight, appetite, our ability to focus and make choices, as well as our overall physical and mental health. At Team LoCoFit, sleep is something we take into consideration in each week of checking in with clients because of its significant impact and interplay on nutrition and training.
Sleep & Appetite
Sleep deprivation increases hunger and decreases satiety. When we sleep less, circulating levels of leptin (the satiety hormone) are suppressed and circulating levels of ghrelin (the hunger hormone) are elevated. Oftentimes, clients report being much hungrier and feeling a stronger inclination to snack on sugary, salty, and fatty foods than protein and fiber rich foods. If you are having a hard time managing your hunger and appetite, we recommend taking a good look at sleep quality!
Sleep, Body Composition, and Weight
Due to the fact that when we sleep less we tend to eat more, we also run into the correlation of having higher levels of body fat with insufficient sleep. Your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar and insulin response becomes impaired, we tend to hold more water, and feel more inflamed on less sleep. When looking at quantitative data of a client’s check in sheet, weight is almost always higher when they have slept less. Additionally, if clients are tracking fasting blood glucose each morning, their blood glucose levels are always higher on nights where they did not get sufficient sleep. Our ability to recover and repair muscle happens during deep sleep as well. Therefore, with less sleep you are depriving yourself of the ability to repair and grow muscle finding yourself with more body fat and less muscle mass.
Sleep and training performance
While one night of poor sleep may not completely ruin your ability to have a good training session, we often recommend prioritizing catching up on sleep before hitting the gym sleep deprived. Pain tolerance is significantly decreased in sleep deprived individuals and the chances for injury increase when we are not cognitively recovered from a good night’s sleep.
Wind Down Routines
Your ability to fall asleep will be impacted by the 2-3 hours leading up to bed time. We recommend starting to do the things necessary to destress during this time, and refrain from doing anything that may increase adrenaline and anxiety levels at this time.
Exposure to blue light in the evenings inhibits melatonin production, a hormone that allows us to feel sleepy before bed time. If possible, use only warm lighting in the evenings or get yourself a pair of blue blocking glasses to wear around the house after the sun sets and you are getting ready to wind down. We recommend trying to view the sunset if possible to help align your circadian rhythm with sunlight.
Screens emit blue light which keep us from falling asleep, and has also been shown to decrease dopamine levels in the brain when exposed to blue light between the hours of 10pm and 4am.
We would recommend avoiding caffeine after 2pm to ensure that you are not blocking adenosine’s ability to build up throughout the day and create that sleep drive or the feeling of sleepiness at the end of the day.
Temperature and Food
In order to produce melatonin, the body needs to reach a certain lower core temperature. This is often why it is much harder to fall asleep in a warm room rather than being bundled up in a cold room. Therefore, make sure the temperature in your room is below 75 degrees or whatever is comfortable for you in order to fall asleep. If you eat a big meal too close to bedtime, this may elevate core body temperature and be counterproductive to the cooling that is necessary for you to feel sleepy. For some, it may be helpful for the last meal of the day to have a moderate amount of carbohydrates for the calming effect that it may have, and an advantage for relaxation before bed.
Sleep is one of the many tools we use as coaches at Team LoCoFit to optimize a client’s overall health and body composition. We hope you found this article helpful and feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you might have on what tools we recommend optimizing for your health.