Weight loss goals are only as good as their foundation. To burn fat most effectively and improve health, building muscle is just as important. But even with all the Clean Eating and exercising in the world, missing out on a good night’s rest can hold you back from achieving your desired results.
Sleep directly impacts our overall body composition and our ability to burn fat. Fat loss is all about hormone function and proper hormone function is supported by a healthy sleep schedule.
Nearly 35 percent of adults in America are regularly getting less than the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep a night. That means many of us are experiencing sleep deprivation which has been linked to poor immune function, diabetes, memory loss, and obesity. Many people eat healthily and exercise but fall short on sleep. This can make achieving fat loss goals very difficult.
If your goal is to burn fat and build muscle, sleep needs to be at the top of your priority list! Here are 9 Smart Sleeping Strategies to Burn Fat & Build Muscle:
1. Sleep Helps Build Muscle
Doing strength and resistance training stimulates muscle growth and helps with fat loss. That’s just the beginning though. The real magic happens while we are asleep!
Sleeping is an anabolic act meaning we are in a state of “building and growth”. During sleep, our body releases human growth hormone and reparative enzymes that work to rebuild the muscles that we used during exercise and makes them stronger. Building muscle is crucial during the fat burning stage to keep you healthy, strong and “fit”, not just skinny.
2. Sleep Helps You Make Healthier Choices
When we don’t get a good night’s sleep, it’s difficult to maintain healthy habits. Studies show that even one night of poor sleep can lead us to eat an extra 300-600 calories the next day. And those calories tend to come from sugary, calorie-dense foods. This is due to the effects that sleep has on our hormones. When we are sleep deprived, leptin, the hormone that signals to our body that we have eaten enough is lower. Ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates appetite, is also increased. A lack of sleep leads to poor energy and this is our body’s way of trying to increase our energy stores.
A common assumption is that if we are awake longer, we will burn more calories. In reality, a lack of sleep causes our metabolic rate to be down-regulated. So essentially our body burns calories and fat at a slower rate in order to preserve energy. Sleep really is our secret weapon for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.
3. Improve Your Sleep
A good night’s sleep starts the moment we wake up. Having a consistent wake-up time and bedtime can help train our body to sleep better during the night. Getting proper sleep is one of the best ways we can care for ourselves. Try implementing some or all of the following tips to ensure a great night’s sleep.
4. Wake Up with Sunlight
Rising early and getting some sunshine first thing in the morning, either through a window or by going outside, will help regulate our body’s melatonin production cycle. It’s best to get lots of light during the daytime and less light at night.
5. Avoid Screens at Bed Time.
That artificial “blue” light that comes from electronic screens signals to our body that it’s still daytime. Instead of switching into “night-time” hormone production of melatonin, our body may continue to produce “daytime” hormones like cortisol that keep us awake. Try turning off all screens at least an hour before bedtime.
6. Create an Optimal Sleep Environment
Experts suggest that we sleep better in complete darkness and in a cool setting. So get yourself some blackout curtains and cover or remove from the room any lights from electronics. When it comes to keeping it cool, studies suggest that 68 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal temperature for sleeping. It’s not too hot and not too cold but just right.
7. Calm Yourself
Prepare your body for sleep by doing something relaxing before bed. Meditation or doing a night-time yoga routine are great options. Other ideas include taking a warm bath, journaling, sipping on tea, reading, or listening to calm music. Anything that helps calm the chatter in our heads and relaxes the body can help you get a deeper, more restful night of Zzz’s.
8. Eat Smart Before Bed
Avoid eating right before bed as this can signal our body to wake up rather than wind down. Give yourself 90 minutes to 2 hours between eating and sleeping whenever possible. But keep in mind, going to bed hungry can also keep you awake. If a snack is needed before bed, stick to something with a good amount of protein, healthy fats, and fiber. A handful of nuts, such as pistachios which contain melatonin, a few veggies, and hummus, or a hard-boiled egg.
9. Get Extra Sleep After Lifting Weights
Sleep is crucial for a good recovery post workout. Be sure to time your workouts around a good nights rest and don’t push your body when you’re underslept. When you switch your focus from burning fat to building muscle, you not only boost your energy levels, but you improve bone density, increase your metabolism and train your body to be healthier.
Now that you’re aware of the impacts of sleep, you can get started with your own sleep goals! In a world where we spend a lot of time pushing ourselves beyond our limits, this is an opportunity for you to practice self-care! Try setting a timer on your phone to begin your “winding down” time before bed, and reap the rewards of a good nights rest.