SLEEP is so Hottt right now…but how much does it really matter?
According to national level samples anywhere from 30-45% of adults are not getting enough sleep and upwards of 70% of US adolescents aren’t getting the sleep they need.
Reduced sleep can lead to impaired cognitive and physical functioning, increased inflammation, reduced hormone levels, dysregulated blood sugar, decreased quality of life, and an increased risk of death [1], and it looks like sleep health is associated with one-year weight loss success [2].
But, a few nights of minor sleep reduction in healthy people isn’t making someone diabetic, even five nights of five hours of sleep reduction only increased mean glucose by 11.4% and did not affect testosterone levels [3]
Not getting enough sleep can also potentially mess with our appetite regulation and hunger hormones [4, 5], but again a few days of five hours of sleep probably isn’t breaking the bank [6].
What I see on the internet right now is that people are getting fatalistic about a bad night’s sleep.
They think working out is pointless and they are automatically doomed to roll over into a never-ending carousel of Cheetos and Cheesecake.
This just isn’t the case!
Is living your life in a reduced sleep state a bad idea for your health and your gains?
Yes. Absolutely!
Can increasing your sleep potentially alleviate some or all of this badness?
Yes [7-10].
But, a few nights of 7, 6, or even 5 hours sleep probably isn’t having an appreciable impact on your average trainee’s performance or the average individual’s metabolic health.
Perhaps the biggest Pro Sleep sell right now is based on two papers that found losing weight in a reduced sleep state lead to as much as a 60% increase in muscle loss and a 55% decrease in fat loss [11, 12].
Very not good!
Unfortunately, these acute sleep-restricted studies have not included an exercise or resistance training program and it is likely possible to mitigate some of these extremely scary metabolic and body composition effects of inadequate sleep with exercise and resistance training [13, 14].
Nevertheless, sleep-deprived psychologically-stressed low-protein Yo-Yo Dieting without exercise is the most unethical play in our industry and we want absolutely no part of it.
Below are our six heavy-hitter, biggest-bang for your buck strategies for your sleep.
1) Get outside and be physically active throughout the day, every day [15].
2) There is a ton of variability here, but depending on how sensitive you are and the amount of caffeine you ingest we recommend cutting caffeine consumption anywhere from 6 to 16 hours before bed [18-21] and if getting to sleep and staying asleep is a real problem for you consider taking out caffeine entirely.
3) Keep your last meal at least two hours before your bedtime [16, 17]. (If you are wanting to gnaw your arm off or just have to have something after dinner a 25 to 40 gram protein only snack is likely the way to go in this time block).
4) Put your phone in a drawer while you sleep and try to avoid scrolling for 30 min to one hour before you want to go to sleep [22, 23].
5) Block out all the light in your room and if you live in an area with ambient noise consider purchasing a noise machine to help get asleep and avoid disruptive wake-ups [23-26].
6) Keep your room chilly between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit seems to be ideal. Taking a hot shower before bed can also potentially help with sleep onset and thermoregulation.
1. Consensus Conference, P., et al., Joint Consensus Statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society on the Recommended Amount of Sleep for a Healthy Adult: Methodology and Discussion. J Clin Sleep Med, 2015. 11(8): p. 931-52.
2. Kline, C.E., et al., The association between sleep health and weight change during a 12-month behavioral weight loss intervention. Int J Obes (Lond), 2021.
3. Reynolds, A.C., et al., Impact of five nights of sleep restriction on glucose metabolism, leptin and testosterone in young adult men. PLoS One, 2012. 7(7): p. e41218.
4. Al Khatib, H.K., et al., The effects of partial sleep deprivation on energy balance: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Eur J Clin Nutr, 2017. 71(5): p. 614-624.
5. Lin, J., et al., Associations of short sleep duration with appetite-regulating hormones and adipokines: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Obes Rev, 2020. 21(11): p. e13051.
6. Hart, C.N., et al., Acute Changes in Sleep Duration on Eating Behaviors and Appetite-Regulating Hormones in Overweight/Obese Adults. Behav Sleep Med, 2015. 13(5): p. 424-36.
7. Al Khatib, H.K., et al., Sleep extension is a feasible lifestyle intervention in free-living adults who are habitually short sleepers: a potential strategy for decreasing intake of free sugars? A randomized controlled pilot study. Am J Clin Nutr, 2018. 107(1): p. 43-53.
8. Bonnar, D., et al., Sleep Interventions Designed to Improve Athletic Performance and Recovery: A Systematic Review of Current Approaches. Sports Med, 2018. 48(3): p. 683-703.
9. Mah, C.D., et al., The effects of sleep extension on the athletic performance of collegiate basketball players. Sleep, 2011. 34(7): p. 943-50.
10. Pizinger, T.M., B. Aggarwal, and M.P. St-Onge, Sleep Extension in Short Sleepers: An Evaluation of Feasibility and Effectiveness for Weight Management and Cardiometabolic Disease Prevention. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne), 2018. 9: p. 392.
11. Wang, X., et al., Influence of sleep restriction on weight loss outcomes associated with caloric restriction. Sleep, 2018. 41(5).
12. Nedeltcheva, A.V., et al., Insufficient sleep undermines dietary efforts to reduce adiposity. Ann Intern Med, 2010. 153(7): p. 435-41.
13. Saner, N.J., et al., Exercise mitigates sleep loss-induced changes in glucose tolerance, mitochondrial function, sarcoplasmic protein synthesis, and diurnal rhythms. Mol Metab, 2020: p. 101110.
14. Saner, N.J., et al., The effect of sleep restriction, with or without high-intensity interval exercise, on myofibrillar protein synthesis in healthy young men. J Physiol, 2020. 598(8): p. 1523-1536.
15. Sullivan Bisson, A.N., S.A. Robinson, and M.E. Lachman, Walk to a better night of sleep: testing the relationship between physical activity and sleep. Sleep Health, 2019. 5(5): p. 487-494.
16. Crispim, C.A., et al., Relationship between food intake and sleep pattern in healthy individuals. J Clin Sleep Med, 2011. 7(6): p. 659-64.
17. Kinsey, A.W. and M.J. Ormsbee, The health impact of nighttime eating: old and new perspectives. Nutrients, 2015. 7(4): p. 2648-62.
18. Clark, I. and H.P. Landolt, Coffee, caffeine, and sleep: A systematic review of epidemiological studies and randomized controlled trials. Sleep Med Rev, 2017. 31: p. 70-78.
19. O’Callaghan, F., O. Muurlink, and N. Reid, Effects of caffeine on sleep quality and daytime functioning. Risk Manag Healthc Policy, 2018. 11: p. 263-271.
20. Goldstein, E.R., et al., International society of sports nutrition position stand: caffeine and performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr, 2010. 7(1): p. 5.
21. Weibel, J., et al., The impact of daily caffeine intake on nighttime sleep: signs of overnight withdrawal? bioRxiv, 2020.
22. He, J.W., et al., Effect of restricting bedtime mobile phone use on sleep, arousal, mood, and working memory: A randomized pilot trial. PLoS One, 2020. 15(2): p. e0228756.
23. Blume, C., C. Garbazza, and M. Spitschan, Effects of light on human circadian rhythms, sleep and mood. Somnologie (Berl), 2019. 23(3): p. 147-156.
24. Farokhnezhad Afshar, P., et al., Effect of White Noise on Sleep in Patients Admitted to a Coronary Care. J Caring Sci, 2016. 5(2): p. 103-9.
25. Halperin, D., Environmental noise and sleep disturbances: A threat to health? Sleep Sci, 2014. 7(4): p. 209-12.
26. Messineo, L., et al., Broadband Sound Administration Improves Sleep Onset Latency in Healthy Subjects in a Model of Transient Insomnia. Front Neurol, 2017. 8: p. 718.

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