You have your training sorted.
But something’s missing .. oh yeah – diet.
But that seems to be in order, too. You eat pretty healthily, focusing on good quality foods, keep an eye on the junk, and either track your calories and macronutrients, or at least have a good idea of how much you’re consuming.
Not only that, but you’re pretty good with your recovery too.
You might go for a sports massage every week or so, stretch out after sessions, make a date with your foam roller every evening, and book in with your chiropractor or physical therapist whenever you feel the onset of the injury.
And yet, the fat isn’t budging.
You’re still left with a mini muffin top, bits that wobble, and some unsightly skin that you’d rather no one else saw.
You even recently addressed what you thought was the final part of the puzzle – supplements. If you missed our essential supplements series, check out our 4 supplement series.
So everything seems to be in order.
What could be stopping you from getting results?
Or rather – a lack of – is a grossly underestimated factor in the fat loss stakes.
Everybody drones on about how important it is to burn calories with training, debates HIIT versus steady state cardio, recites phrases like “abs are made in the kitchen” and spends more on supplements than they do on their grocery bills.
Yet what these guys and girls are forgetting is the simple solution to feeling better, performing at a higher level, and ultimately burning fat faster.
Sleep really is that critical.
Plus, it doesn’t cost you anything!
It doesn’t even take any effort.
Let’s look at why sleep is just so important.
Why a Lack of Sleep is Screwing You Up
A more interesting take could be from the opposite angle. Here’s hoping the following might scare you into getting to bed a little earlier!
- Increased Cortisol Levels
Cortisol is a stress hormone, and having higher levels of it are correlated with storing more body fat, particularly around your mid-section.
While cortisol is released any time the body is under stress (such as when training) this release is transient, and a natural part of life. If you’re chronically sleep-deprived however, cortisol levels can build up over time, and be a major player in your lack of progress.
- Reduced Glucose Control
Sleep deprivation impairs your body’s ability to manage carbohydrate, and makes you more resistant to insulin. This means that more insulin circulates in your blood stream. Insulin is a storage hormone, and one of its key roles is – you guessed it – to store fat.
- Your Training Sucks
Training hard and efficiently is so important in achieving your dream body that you’d be a fool to do anything that compromised your workout intensity.
Yet that’s exactly what you’re doing by missing out on sleep.
Not only will hormonal changes mean you don’t feel on top of your game, but general tiredness makes you more likely to cut workouts short, or skip the gym altogether.
Add to that the fact your body builds, repairs and grows new cells while you sleep, and it’s easy to see how just missing a half hour here and there can have a serious impact on your physique.
Top Tips for Getting More Sleep
Did the scare tactics do enough?
Now convinced as to just why sleep is so critical in achieving your goals and getting you to where you want to be?
That’s that battle won.
But there’s still the war to wage – the war on getting better sleep.
In this modern world of social media, bright lights, constant noise and technological distractions, getting a good night’s sleep is a lot easier said than done.
So if you struggle under the sheets, tossing and turning for hours on end, try these simple tips to help drift off (and stay asleep) more easily.
1. Turn of ALL social media at least 1 hour before bed
You might not think it, but being on Facebook right before you close your eyes will hugely sabotage the quality of your sleep. Along with social media, shut down your laptop, turn off your TV and disengage from the outside world for at least 60 minutes before sleeping.
2. Read a good book
Read 30 minutes prior to sleep time, flick through the pages of a book. What you go for is personal preference – fiction probably works best, but you don’t want anything TOO exciting and intriguing, otherwise you’ll want to keep reading into the early hours. In essence, you actually want a boring book, not a good one.
3. Breathe deeply
Before you commit to sleep, turn of all the lights in your room, and simply concentrate on your breathing and relaxing all your muscles.
4. Make your room as dark as possible
Any light (artificial or natural) can disturb you getting off to sleep. Buy some blackout blinds if you live in a bright neighbourhood.
5. Take a sleep supplements
There are some pretty good supplements on the market, including melatonin, GABA, magnesium, and 5-HTP.
6. Night time nutrition
One thing that may help is eating more carbohydrates closer to bed.
That doesn’t mean filling up on cereal and candy bars at 11pm, rather, taking a small amount of carbs from earlier in the day, and putting them with your last meal.
Experiment and see what works for you.
There’s really no point in training your butt off, eating well, spending money on supplements and taking the time to invest in your recovery and rehabilitation if you’re not doing something as simple as looking after your sleep.
It’s such an easy thing to take care off, yet you’ll reap the rewards with faster fat loss and greater muscle gains. Plus, you’ll feel so much better, and there’s a lot to be said for that.