Podcast Breakdown! Sleep and its effect on performance, and weight control.
We firmly believe that adequate sleep is the most important thing you can do for your health. Every system and bodily function are negatively affected by insufficient sleep and alternatively improved by adequate sleep.
Insufficient sleep (5-6 hours a night) can result in a 10-30% decrease in time to physical exhaustion. Meaning that if you were going for a 10km run you would fatigue closer to 7km then 10km. We also see decreases in peak muscle strength, sustained muscle strength and aerobic output. There’s an increase in lactic acid build up which may be due to our inability to deliver oxygen to our working muscles. We also see a reduction in the bodies ability to cool itself down
through sweating and perspiration.
A lack of sleep also spikes our cortisol – the stress hormone. This can result in impaired immune function and chronic inflammation – both of which are crucial for recovery. The prefrontal cortex is also affected which can affect your mood, decision making skills, reaction time and mindset during competition.
Weight control –
Less than 6 hours of sleep per night results in 2 key hormones – ghrelin and leptin, being impaired. Leptin signals to the brain that you are full, satisfied and satiated. It tells you to stop eating, while ghrelin tells you that you’re hungry and that you should keep going. When sleep deprived, leptin is impaired, and ghrelin is amplified.
There’s a strong signal telling you to eat more, and less of a signal telling you that you’re full. In fact, 5-6 hours sleep a night resulted in around 300 calories consumed per day. This equates to roughly 4-6kg of extra body weight per year (although many different factors can influence this).
When sleep deprived, we also crave more unhealthy, sugary foods such as chocolate and white bread for a quick energy burst. Another quick fact is that when we are in a caloric deficit (most diets) and sleep deprived, 70% of all the bodyweight you lose comes from lean body mass and not the fat we’re trying to get rid of.
So what can we do?
Strategies to improve our sleep -
Regularity: aim to maintain a consistent sleep and wake time. Regardless of the day (work or weekend) and whether you’ve had a bad sleep or not, aim to wake up at a consistent time. This allows your body to get the most out of your time asleep in terms of recovery, mood, memory retention and learning as well as all the other benefits of sleep
Temperature: keep it cool. Keeping the room temperature lower helps your body get into a deeper state of sleep for longer as well as speeding up the time it takes you to fall asleep.
Darkness: helps stimulate the release of melatonin (helps you feel sleepy). Using screens (phones, tv’s, laptops, etc.) too close to bed time bathes us in artificial light – telling our brain its time to be alert. To combat this, reduce screen use 1-2 hours before bed, ensure you have a dark room, and use blue light blocking glasses if you absolutely must use screens closer to bed.
Walk it out: if you’re lying in bed for 25-30 minutes and can’t sleep, don’t stay in bed. This will tell your brain that the bed is a place of wakefulness. Go somewhere else, avoid screens and food, read under a dim light or do some light house chores. Once you feel sleepy then get back into bed. This will reprogram your brain to connect your bed with sleep time.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine close to bed: a whole article could be written on the topic of alcohol and caffeine as these things have a large effect on how you sleep. This will be a future post but for now, avoid caffeine 12-14 hours before bed time and for the best sleep avoid alcohol all together (I know this may be hard for some).
Don’t go out and try all these things at once, pick one or two and notice how much better your sleep and as a result your mood and performance are the next day.
Check out Mathew Walker on Joe Rogan’s podcast as well as his book ‘Why We Sleep’ – still my favourite book to date, I can’t recommend it enough. #one22