This week I’m talking about the importance of sleep! Sleep duration and quality is the second thing I look at when working with clients, after implementing a whole-food based (mostly ketogenic) diet.

Sleep is something so simple and yet so powerful. Most of us underestimate the importance of sleep for reaching our goals (fat-loss, productivity, energy, building muscle, mental & exercise performance etc.).

According to the National Sleep Foundation, compared to 50 years ago, we now sleep 1-2 hours less per night on average. That’s 7-14 hours or 1-2 full nights less sleep every week! And we often don’t even realize how much our cognitive performance declines after a couple of days on 5-6 hours of sleep.
– a study showed that subjects that were sleeping less than 6 hours per night for two weeks straight had the same mental ‘performance’ as if they hadn’t slept at all for 48 hours! And they themselves didn’t even realize they were impacted this badly!

Apart from performance, lack of sleep (meaning regular 5-6 hour nights) has been shown to negatively impact weight-loss. In fact, sleep-deprived people are 55% more likely to become obese.
Part of the reason for that is that not sleeping enough leads to higher levels of ghrelin (hormone that stimulates appetite) and lower levels of the hormone leptin (suppresses hunger). Your body seems to be trying to compensate the need for energy it didn’t get from sleep by making you eat more and thanks to your hormones being out of order, you end up eating more than you actually needed, thus causing weight-gain.

I’ve seen many people whose weight-loss was stalling until they increased their sleep duration to a consistent 7-8 hours per night and after that they were pretty shocked when they realized that they started losing fat again through the simple act of sleeping more!

If you’re trying to build muscle, chances are you also need more sleep to recover and build muscle tissue. 6 hours just won’t cut it, depending on how often you’re working out, you shouldn’t be sleeping less than 7-9 hours per night.

Here are a couple of tips if you’re not sleeping well:
– Go to sleep at the same time every night +- 30 minutes
– Avoid screens (phone, TV, computer etc.) 30-60 minutes before bed. Use f.lux (Windows, Mac) https://justgetflux.com/ or Twilight (Android) to reduce the blue lights from your screens if you have to work late in the evening and to sleep better as a result
– Make your room as dark as possible – if you still have light coming in or you’re traveling, use a sleeping mask
– Try earplugs, you might be waking up because you’re sensitive to noise without even knowing about it
– Don’t drink coffee (or switch to decaf) after 2PM. Try to drink max. 2-3 coffees/day and consider switching to green tea after lunchtime instead of coffee

 

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Some studies I mention in the video:
http://www.medscape.org/viewarticle/502825
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18517032/
http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.0010062
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23479616/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12683469

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