This is the fourth and last article on our Sleep, Rest and Recovery series!
We discuss how a lack of sleep, which as we know can be detrimental to your performance, can be detrimental to your weight loss goals!
A recent study out of the University of Chicago, published in the journal Sleep, researchers discovered that people who got just four-and-a-half hours of sleep, ate significantly more late-afternoon junk food than those who slept the recommended 7 to eight-and-a-half hours!
What was the study?
14 young adults, who typically slept 8 – 8.5 hours a night, were the subjects. The study was completed over two, four day periods.
During the first period, the participants were allowed to sleep their usual 8 – 8.5 hours a night, however during the second four day period they were only allowed to sleep for 4.5 hours a night; going to bed at 1am and being woken at 5:30am.
In both study periods, they were given buffet style meals with plenty of snacking options available and allowed to eat what they wanted.
Once the results were gathered, it turned out that during the sleep deprived portion of the study, participants were eating on average 400 more calories a day, compared to when they were getting the recommended amount of sleep.
Why is this?
These new findings support a growing body of literature that links sleep deprivation with weight gain. The lack of sleep activates the endocannabinoid system, which is involved in appetite control.
This system releases higher peaks of the lipids encocannabinoid, in particular 2-AG, and its release and rhythm is altered by a lack of sleep.
If you look at the word endocannabinoid you can separate it …
Endo = Inner and Cannabinoid = cannabis.
Yes, our bodies release compounds that seem to have the equivalent effects of the brain as marijuana, hence the natural “munchies” caused by a lack of sleep.
How can we prevent this?
From the past 4 weeks worth of articles on sleep, rest and recovery, I hope by now you can see the benefit of making sleep and recovery a number one priority.
The detriments on your performance and reaching your goals can all be avoided by being strict with your recovery and making sure you are getting the recommended 7.5 – 8.5 hours a night.
There are so many sleeping apps available to you to set reminders for going to sleep on your phones, iPad and computers there aren’t many excuses these days for lacking on sleep. Being strict with yourself and making a set routine can really make a difference! Try making a pact with a work colleague or a friend to increase your motivation and make it a habit.
If there is the odd occasion that sleep is affected by travel or hectic work period a good way to avoid the snacking is to not have the options available to you wether that is in work or at home. Removing the temptation is the simple and most effective way to avoid having the snacks.
Combine all the advice from previous articles from creating the perfect sleeping environment and habits, avoiding phone use before bed, focussing on cognitive rest as much as physical rest, avoiding that middle zone of cognitive work and prioritising the number of hours of sleep we achieve each night, can all add up to improving your performance in and out of the gym, achieving your goals and feeling better in general every day!