Sleep and weight loss are a crucial factor in any healthy regime.  Sleep is one of the key ingredients of optimal health, performance and physical and mental repair.  Getting the right amount of sleep is imperative for a healthy hormonal system.

Not getting enough sleep can cause:

 1) Testosterone production – go a few nights with a lack of sleep and your sex drive will greatly diminish. A teenager or young man in his 20s won’t feel this so much, but once you hit your 30s and 40s this changes considerably.

2) Insulin / Cortisol “see saw” – your tired mind (never forget how significant the brain is in all of this) and body needs boosts in cortisol to get it going and is also more insulin resistant (meaning it is much more likely to store glucose in the fat cells).  What sort of foods do you reach for when you are sleep deprived?  The worst kinds – you do this for hormonal reason and it will send you into a negative spiral of bad eating/snacking, lower “real” energy, mental fog and fat accumulation.

 3) Growth Hormone production – we release a lot of our HGH during our sleep cycle.  If you this crucial sleep cycle (between hours 11pm – 4am) out, you can’t play “catch up”.

 Changing a person’s aesthetics is achieved through healthy eating, exercise and sleep. The one overlooked point is sleep. Sleep is not only vital for our sanity, but also for our body’s composition.

There are five stages of sleep the brain goes through. During each phase biochemistry is altered within the body to promote memory retention and increase hormonal production. The first two phases of sleep are the transition period from a state of being awake to that of reduced body temperature and slower brain waves, while phase two sleep is also linked to that of phase five, during which the regulation of new movement patterns are laid down and established.

The third and fourth state of sleep is that of hormonal production and receptor sensitivity regulators – this phase of sleep is known as deep wave sleep. The final phase is that of REM sleep: this phase is responsible for establishing motor unit function and memory retention.

So how does this all relate to body composition and performance in the gym? Transforming one’s physique is a specialty of ours at 4 D Fitness, and one of the reasons we are so good at what we do is our understanding of the importance of sleep. Let’s take a look at how the different phases of sleep are linked to positive body composition changes.

Phases of Sleep

Phase two and five sleep is vital in setting one’s motor unit control:  in weight training knowing how to perform the biomechanical movement patterns correctly is the difference between correct load dispersion and reduced injury occurrence. Therefore, in establishing phase two and five sleep stages we can better re-teach our clients how to perform the exercise whilst they are sleeping. By decreasing body temperature and regulating room temperature, one can create an environment that will sustain REM sleep. REM sleep can however easily be affected by noise pollution and light interference.

Light interference can easily create a sensory marker in the brain that disturbs REM sleep, therefore it is vital to establish the best sleep environment. Blackout curtains can be used and any light disturbances (electrical devices stand-by lights) should be eliminated. Even the slightest light contact with the skin will reduce the quality of REM sleep, so the darker the bedroom the more likely one is able to gain quality REM sleep.

Phase three and four sleep are critical to composition change because during these phases the human body resets insulin sensitivity and promotes growth hormone production: if one awakes between 1am and 3am in the morning after falling asleep at 10am this phase of sleep is disturbed. The liver is responsible for much of the hormonal balance, so if the liver is unable to fully process toxins this balance is disturbed and the effect will be a lack of urinary control and a need to use the bathroom half way through one’s sleep cycle.

Magnesium is vital in aiding cortisol management and is therefore going to aid deep wave sleep in resetting insulin sensitivity. Magnesium is also a catalyst in re-establishing adrenal health through the cortisol/insulin connection.

The types of food you eat will also affect your sleep cycle. Foods that are high in carbohydrates may increase serotonin production, however, the downside is that once blood sugar levels decline the body will go into a natural hunger mode and you are likely to wake up as natural reaction to low blood sugar. Foods that are high in essential fats will aid in establishing a constant blood glucose level, which is beneficial as the body will be able to go into a fasting state while slow-release energy is being made available for metabolic function. One option to try is to stay away from carbohydrate-rich meals at least two hours before bed and try to include a meal rich in essential fatty acids.

Better sleep creates a better body and better mind.

The Importance of Sleep, by the 4D Personal Trainer in Clapham

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