In making a plan to change your body whether it is to lose weight, build muscle, or compete in some physical challenge there is one thing we often forget in our plans. We set goals and gym schedules, plan meals, take measurements, buy healthy foods, and avoid triggers to send us down the wrong path. So what’s missing? Sleep. During all this work and planning we sometimes forget that adequate rest is usually as important as the exercise itself. One of the most overlooked areas of any fitness regime is the benefit of sleep. The hours spent sleeping is when the body carries out fixes for the body, cortisol levels decrease, your central nervous system gets some down time, and hormone levels stabilize.
Being sleep deprived, even by an hour a night can have harmful effects on you and your overall goals. In an ideal world you’d get 8 hours of sleep a night. During these 8 hours your cortisol levels decrease.
Cortisol is one hormone responsible for weight gain, especially in the belly region. In times of stress the levels of cortisol increase. Think fight or flight. When the body is under stress, cortisol is produced, sending signals to the body to break down muscle protein into glucose and glycogen, which can fuel the body for that “fight or flight” response. If your goal is to build muscle, this process directly impacts your progress.
Sleep is the time your body restores its balance. During this period of rest, your body releases a large amount of growth hormones. Growth hormones are vital to tissue repair and muscle building. This hormone helps to develop your muscles in the recovery period. Bodybuilders need the maximum amount of growth hormone to be released and this will only happen with adequate sleep. Growth hormones help your body digest fat, so if weight loss is your goal, you too need adequate sleep. Central Nervous System To reduce likelihood of injury and to keep energy levels high, it is important to let your central nervous system rest from the stress of just daily life. While you sleep your metabolism decreases. This stimulates more blood to be delivered to your muscles, aiding in recovery and muscle expansion.
Lastly, when we don’t get enough sleep our insulin levels rise. Not only does this increase your chances of developing diabetes, it also encourages the body to store excess fat. So, while you set your goals, push yourself hard at the gym, and plan and eat clean, please don’t forget to get to bed early. It’s just as important that your body is well rested as it is to lift a heavier weight or to run that extra mile