Importance of Sleep for Muscle Gain and Staying Fit


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Sleep is the most important thing for a better body. Even if you are on the very best diet and have the best fitness routine, if sleep is off, you will not achieve the desired results. Find out why.

You have probably come across the two following types of fitness enthusiasts. The first person is your model of fitness success. He or she clearly knows how to lose weight properly and gain muscle.

The other person has their heart in the right place, but no matter how hard he or she works, never gets the desired results. The most troubling part of the entire story is that when you talk to both, their fitness approach is exactly the same.

  • They eat meals that mostly focus on vegetables and lean protein.
  • They exercise three times a week (or more) and focus both on weights and cardio.
  • They know which foods are healthy and which to avoid.

The type of person that continues to struggle usually can’t maintain their focus. Sometimes, they crave sweets, can’t control their hunger, and typically don’t achieve the same results as everyone else following the same training program.

You may think that the problem is obvious – one person strays from their diet more than the other or they simply don’t know how to train properly. Maybe it’s genetics. However, the problem may be something you would never truly think about, and that is lack of sleep.

How Sleep Controls Your Diet

You have always been told that the best way to achieve a healthy way and have a great body is to eat healthy and exercise. Simply put, if you want to look better, eat less and move more.

However, things are not that simple. Sometimes, even if you try your best, it seems impossible to eat less and exercise more, and there is a good reason for it. Between living your life, working at least 8 hours a day, and exercising, you’re not sleeping enough.

Girl sleeping on her belly and her arms around the pillow

Sleep is actually the key for being rewarded for your diet and fitness efforts. According to CDC, around 35% of people in the US are sleep deprived, and nearly the same percentage of people suffers from obesity. The connection between the two is not a coincidence.

Sleeping less than 7 hours per night is not only bad for your health, but also for your weight and muscle gain. Lack of sleep can significantly reduce the benefits of dieting. According to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, people who receive adequate rest every day, lose fat twice as faster than those who sleep less than 7 hours per night.

When you are sleep deprived, you will also feel hungrier, crave more sweets, feel less satisfied after meals and lack energy to exercise.

How Poor Sleep Changes Your Fat Cells

Remember that last time you woke up after a night of inadequate or poor sleep. You feel exhausted, tense, confused, and even a bit grumpy. It’s not only your body and rain that feel that way but your fat cells too.

When you are sleep deprived, your body starts suffering from something we can define as metabolic grogginess. This term was invented by Chicago researchers who analyzed what happens after just four days of poor sleep. When you think about it, this is something a lot of us experience after a busy week at work.

Although you believe four nights of bad sleep can be compensated with some extra cups of coffee, the hormones that control your fat cells don’t feel the same way. When you are sleep deprived, your body’s ability to use insulin becomes disrupted.

Insulin is vital for removing fatty acids and lipids from your blood and prevents storage. When your ability to use insulin is reduced or disrupted, fats circulate in your blood which leads to storing fat in all the wrong places.

How Lack of Sleep Makes You Crave Food

Hunger is not controlled only by your willpower. Two hormones – leptin and ghrelin control it. Leptin is produced in fat cells, and the less it’s produced, the more you feel like your stomach is empty. Ghrelin stimulates hunger, reduces the amount of calories that you burn and increases the amount of fat storage.

To successfully lose weight, it is essential to control leptin. Sleep deprivation makes this impossible because lack of sleep depresses leptin and stimulates ghrelin.

Girl with a spoon in her mouth is lying under the cover and eating a cake. Girl craving sweets because of sleep deprivation

As this isn’t enough, poor sleep creates an internal battle in your body that makes it almost impossible to lose weight. When you don’t get enough sleep, your cortisol levels rise. Cortisol is a stress hormone that is associated with fat gain. It also activates award centers in your brain that make you crave food.

As we mentioned, at the same time, lack of ZZZs increases ghrelin production. The combination of high ghrelin and cortisol production will cause you to feel less satisfied after a meal, and you will basically feel hungry all the time. Feeling hungry all the time will make you crave foods that you shouldn’t eat such as fast foods and sweets.

How Poor Sleep Sabotages Muscle Gain

In order to have a good looking body, you have to have some muscles. Muscles help burn fat and stay young. However, lack of sleep is the enemy of muscle. Studies suggest that poor sleep decreases protein synthesis and causes muscle loss.

Lack of slumber also makes it harder for your body to recover from exercise. This happens because the production of growth hormone, which is vital for fat burning, muscle growth, and fast recovery, will be significantly slowed down.

A very thin and naked guy in glasses without muscles isolated on dark flexing his biceps

The Secret of Staying Fit: Prioritize Sleep

Whenever you can, make sure you sleep between seven and nine hours per night. Make sure your sleeping environment is 100% comfortable, meaning you should sleep on the best mattress you can afford, and always make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark and reasonably cool.

Also, make sure that one night of inadequate sleep isn’t followed with a few more. Although it doesn’t seem like much, it can really make a difference, help you stay healthier, and achieve your fitness goals. If you encounter sleep issues and looking for the solution, here is 101 tips of how to solve your sleep problems.