Written by: Michele Zandman-Frankel
Revolutionize Nutrition, Owner
“Sleep is the greatest legal performance enhancing drug that most people are probably neglecting.” Neuroscientist, Dr. Matthew Walker
Why is sleep important for fat loss and muscle gain?
You may not know it, but your metabolism is firing full throttle while you sleep. Your body is doing it's best to repair it's musculoskeletal system, soft tissue, organs, and CNS (central nervous system), including your brain. Hormone synthesis and maintenance is also prioritized during this time, along with reduction of stress hormone response. Influx of stress hormone can be detrimental to fat loss and/or muscle gain for various reasons.
Sleep also has a direct impact on our fitness and nutrition decision making. Researchers found that individuals deprived of sleep were much more likely to make poor nutrition choices (Greer, Goldstein, & Walker, 2013). The participants in the study showed a much stronger neuronal response to “junk” food when they were sleep-deprived. The effect is believed to be due to a decrease in executive function (i.e., the inability to make the correct but often more difficult nutrition decision). Poor sleep is not a one-time event, as it can easily negatively influence daily decisions. Given the importance of nutrition on recovery, a sleep-deprived diet is not likely one that optimizes tissue healing or any performance.
Why is Sleep important for muscular recovery?
When you train, you are tearing apart and breaking down the muscle fibers in your body. Hydration, proper nutrition, and adequate sleep, must all come together for optimal recovery. The better our recovery, the better our physical and cognitive performance. We will experience sustained energy levels, focus, and endurance, as well as an increase in our strength. Overworking or overtraining our muscles without recovery will have catabolic effects, release of stress hormones such as cortisol, and may result in minor to significant injury. You may experience prolonged general fatigue, decreased motivation or moodiness, decrease in reaction time and mind/muscle connection, reduced mobility or increase in tightness, chronic pain or discomfort.
Metabolic overload occurs when you train your muscle to the point of fatigue, exhausting the amount of glycogen available for energy production. While you’re sleeping, your body continues to digest carbohydrates from your diet and metabolize them into glycogen, which is then stored in muscles cells to fuel muscle contractions. One gram of glycogen in muscle cells can hold three to four grams of water; as glycogen is replaced, it helps to increase muscle size, which is another example of how your muscles repair or “grow” while you’re sleeping.
The body releases hormones that are vital to recovery at night. One, in particular, is the human growth hormone (HGH). Morris et al. (2012) have indicated that prior researchers have found a “growth hormone surge” that occurred about every two-hours during prolonged sleep. Growth hormone acts on many tissues to help promote healing, recovery, and growth, but it also helps to raise other hormones vital to recovery. Proper sleep also influences the body’s response to stress and nutrition.
How much sleep should I get?
7-8 hours of sleep per night is recommended, however, we know this is difficult for most. If you can have a solid 6 hours, you may be ok. Sleep duration recommendations do differentiate person to person based on their lifestyle and daily physical energy demands. If you are getting more than 8 hours of sleep per night, you are GOLD!
Quick Sleep Tips from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine
Keep a consistent sleep schedule. Get up at the same time every day, even on weekends or during vacations.
Set a bedtime that is early enough for you to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep.
Don’t go to bed unless you are sleepy.
If you don’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed. Go do a quiet activity without a lot of light exposure. It is especially important to not get on electronics.
Establish a relaxing bedtime routine.
Guided meditation app, ASMR, relaxation music or sleep sounds such as white/brown noise.
Make your bedroom quiet and relaxing. Keep the room at a comfortable, cool temperature.
Limit exposure to bright light in the evenings. Use night-mode on your phone or a red filter.
Turn off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
Don’t eat a large meal before bedtime. If you are hungry at night, eat a light, healthy snack. We recommend something high in protein as it is slow digesting and will aid in muscle recovery while you sleep. Egg whites, low sodium - turkey cold cuts, cottage cheese, greek yogurt, or a protein shake/pudding are all great choices.
Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy diet.
Avoid consuming caffeine in the afternoon or evening.
Avoid consuming alcohol before bedtime.
Reduce your fluid intake before bedtime.
If you are a light sleeper, don’t feel bad if you have to sleep in a separate room.
Supplements that can aid in a good night’s sleep:
From Dusk Til Dawn Sleep Formula by Apollon Nutrition - Discount code: Rev
Magnesium, Zinc, L-Glycine, L-Theanine, Vitamin B6, Melatonin, or ZMA combo.
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