Success in your fitness journey is all about leaving your bed in the early hours to hit the gym, right? You could be forgiven for believing so considering some of the inspirational quotes that have become common place, ‘sleep is for the weak, wake up and lift’ being a classic example.
Well, I have a precious little snippet of information that may actually allow you to spend more time wrapped up in those sheets, not less. Riveted? Unfortunately, i’m not about to justify lazy
days weeks in bed, and announce horizontal running as the newest miracle weight loss secret. But, I am going to tell you why you shouldn’t regularly sacrifice precious hours of sleep for your workouts (I know some of my clients may be suffering shock after seeing me say that).
It all comes down to a hormone named Cortisol, maybe known to you as the stress hormone. Sleep deprivation elevates your cortisol levels, and this increases your appetite. On top of that, I know when I’m super tired, i’m way less likely to prep a healthy meal and am more likely to grab food (probably something carby with a side of cheese). But in its sleep deprived state, your body can’t process sugar in the same way it normally does, and so it retains it and spikes your blood sugar levels.
Sleep deprivation can literally be as little as 30 minutes less sleep than you should be having! It will send your body into ‘survival mode’ and in an effort to conserve fuel, your metabolism will slow down, meaning you can’t burn calories as fast as you should.
I know what you’re thinking – I can’t win! If I don’t go to the gym I won’t make progress or lose weight, but if I do get up too early to train, i’ll be sleep deprived and could gain more weight?! Its all about balance.
In an effort to achieve their goals fast, I know a lot of people pack loads into their days, train late at night and then wake up early to fit in another session. If that sounds too horrific to be you, a similar effect could also be produced by late night, snack fuelled movie marathons, followed by an extremely early morning training session, in an attempt to undo the damage.
The solution? It may actually be better to hit snooze on your alarm than drag yourself out of bed. Of course I don’t mean you should just pack in your working life, a girls got to eat! But listen to your body; if its truly exhausted and you can fit in an extra hour of sleep, have it! You will perform better when you get back to the gym. We live in a society now where we’re all so hungry for success that we almost thrive on the idea of having had no sleep, brag about it even. Don’t get me wrong, I am definitely guilty of this, sacrificing more and more sleep to fit in an extra client, study, or fit in an extra training session. But, my recent week of nothing but sun, sea & sleep did wonders for my wellbeing, and my waistline.
If you’re struggling to get the results you want, and you know your putting the work in at the gym, take a little time out, get your 8 hours of Zzz’s everyday for 2 weeks – and see what happens.