The Effect Sleep has on Our Bodies by Collie Murray

Few body builders or fitness enthusiasts realise how important sleep is. Check the list below and see which items apply to you:

• I frequently have trouble falling asleep at the correct time
• I often find it painful to get up in the morning due to sleepiness
• I am regularly very lethargic at school or at work
• I frequently slash my sleep by 2-3 hours in contrast to what my body appears to require
• I use the alarm clock and actually detest it
• I drink buckets of coffee or coke
• I often take 2-4 hour naps in the evening
• One of the above is a cause of regular stress or reduced productivity

Though many people think that they only need 4-5 hours of sleep, the facts show that while sleep is personalised the majority of us require 7-9 hours of sleep to function adequately and properly. The quality of sleep diminishes with age, but the need for sleep does not. Scientists say that the body is as dynamic during sleep as it is when we’re awake.

Rest could be critically important if you want to gain weight from muscle growth. Depriving yourself of sleep not only limits your capacity to develop muscle, but it also messes up your coordination and mental focus. This could result in less strength and a greater possibility of getting hurt or badly injured.

How does sleep affect muscle growth?

HGH (human growth hormone) is naturally released during deep sleep. It improves muscular recovery and regeneration. In men, 60% to 70% of daily human growth hormone secretion occurs during early sleep which is typically when the deepest sleep cycles occur (what we call slow-wave sleep).

The fact is: sleep deprivation magnifies the stressful impact of exercise upon your body and puts you at risk of over training. If you skip sleep, along with your workout the next day being negatively affected, you also negatively affect the positive processes that occurs during your sleep. You make friends with Cortisol, a hormone that breaks down muscle and is present in higher levels when you are mentally stressed. Getting the proper sleep, at least 7-8 hours per night, is a proven way to improve workout performance and radically improve your physique-development efforts.
How does sleep helps you lose fat?

Sleep is the unsung hero of fat loss! Nutrition and exercise have their place, but one secret weapon in your fat loss armour takes a lot less effort, and that is “getting enough sleep”.

Sleep deprivation makes you hungrier because it reduces the levels of leptin (the chemical that makes you feel full) and increases the levels of ghrelin (the hunger-stimulating hormone). Getting better sleep will allow your body to regulate its metabolism better and reduce the need to over eat.

When you don’t get enough sleep, your body releases more of the stress hormone “cortisol”. Cortisol is a fat generating hormone. It especially increases your belly fat which is a problem area for many. So in getting the required mount of sleep, which is 7-9 hours, will help you reduce your belly fat. This is of course coupled with a decent diet and exercise regime.

However it should be understood that just getting enough sleep will not miraculously get your tummy flatter, it will allow for better results in losing the fat instead of hindering or “It’s not so much that if you sleep, you will lose weight, but if you are sleep-deprived, meaning that you are not getting enough minutes of sleep or good quality sleep, your metabolism will not function properly,” explains Michael Breus, PhD, author of ‘Beauty Sleep’.

If you struggle to get a sleep at night maybe you should try these tips to help you unwind & get yourself a new bedtime routine

  1. Take a warm shower just before bed
  2. SWITCH OFF phones, computers & TV an hour before bed
  3. No caffeinated drinks 3-4 hours before bed
  4. Create a comfortable environment (Clean room=Clean mind)
  5. Try a guided meditation or relaxation CD

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