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Is sleep sabotaging your weight loss goals? 💪

Sleep is one of the biggest factors when it comes to the success of your weight loss or muscle building journey, however it is often overlooked. People tend to focus more on their training, nutrition, water intake and supplements before they even consider sleep. While these things also play a vital role, sleep is one of the most important things that we can manipulate to ensure we are putting ourselves in the best position possible to lose weight and build muscle. 

So how much sleep should you actually get? While it’s different for everyone, the common sweet spot is between 7-9 hours. Obviously this can be difficult, especially for shift workers and parents. So the key is not only getting enough sleep, but also getting good quality sleep. We need to give our bodies enough time to move through all the stages of sleep for optimal muscle recovery, growth and repair. 

Sleep is important for so many things, including improving our mood, strengthening our immune system, cell regeneration and brain function. However it also has a massive effect on our ability to lose weight. If you’re in a dieting phase and your weight has plateaued or even increased, it may actually be due to lack of sleep. Studies have shown increases to our stress hormone cortisol, contributing to excess water retention This explains that ‘watery’ feeling you might feel after a restless night, and is often the reason behind that inexplicable jump in scale weight. Not to mention changes in key fat loss hormones Leptin (responsible for keeping us full and satiated) and Ghrelin (tells us when we're hungry). When we skip out on sufficient and high quality sleep, rather than feeling satisfied after we eat, and experiencing normal hunger cues, our Leptin decreases and Ghrelin increases - a cocktail for struggling to stick to any calorie deficit no matter how disciplined you are!

So before you panic and decide to increase your cardio or decrease your calories, make sure that your sleep isn’t the reason you aren’t seeing progress. 

Struggling to get your 8 hours of quality sleep a night? Here are my top tips for getting your sleep in check: 

  • Reduce your caffeine intake. Sounds obvious, but often people don’t realise how long caffeine stays in your system. Aim to have your last coffee before 1pm if you can, especially if you are sensitive to caffeine. 
  • Establish a solid sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same times each day. 
  • Read or journal before bed. This will help clear your mind and stop you thinking about what you have to do the next day. 
  • Try to eat your last meal at least 1-2 hours before bed. 
  • Get some sunlight early in the morning. This helps promote a regular circadian rhythm, the natural internal process that regulates our sleep/wake cycle. 
  • Keep a sleep diary or track your sleep. If you record and monitor your sleep you will start to notice trends over time and help you figure out what works best for your body.
  • Introduce some breathing or mindfulness activities in the lead up to going to bed.
  • Reduce screen time - the blue light emitted can impact our circadian rhythm, rather than winding down it can do the opposite.
  • Supplements I like - passionflower, magnesium and if needed, melatonin.

We didn't even get into the negative affects reduced sleep can have on the muscle building process! Stay tuned for a follow up on this blog post!

Sweet dreams beautiful people!

Soph xx