Wednesday, April 16, 2014
3 ways sleep deprivation ruins your training goals
Sleep is not always a priority for athletes, but it should be. In fact, ~28% of adults admit to getting less than 6 hours of sleep each night compared to the recommended 7-9 hours. Sleep deprivation (defined here as 4-6 hours of sleep nightly) has been linked to a host of health detriments. Here are the top three and why athletes should care.
The most obvious effect of lack of sleep is fatigue. Fatigue encourages more sedentary behavior, which in turn slows down your daily calorie burn. This can lead to increased body fat. Fatigue can also lead to that famous, "I'm just too tired to train; I'll take a nap instead" or perhaps the, "If I'm this tired, my body MUST need more sleep. I better not train." Enough days like this and suddenly you have lost multiple weeks of effective training. When your body is simply tired, no amount of hydration or snacks will solve the problem. The solution is to avoid this is in the first place by aiming for 7-9 hours of sleep nightly on average.
2. Increased appetite
Multiple studies have shown that when the body is deprived of sleep, this triggers activation of appetite hormones, making you feel more hungry and creating a stronger drive high-calorie or "comfort" foods. Combine this with the fact that you are now awake for longer, and therefore have more time to eat, and suddenly you have eaten significantly more calories than the body needs. Many athletes are constantly worried about not eating enough or eating too much, so anything that affects your body's appetite and satiety signals is a major problem.
3. Altered metabolism
Sleep deprivation can affect how your body metabolizes glucose (sugar or carbohydrate in its simplest form inside the body). This often shows up in the form of reduced insulin sensitivity, reduced glucose clearance from the blood, and elevated cortisol levels. What does all of this mean? It means that the body will favorably store energy as fat mass and not effectively build and maintain muscle mass. In fact, one study showed that those who were sleep deprived for 14 days lost 60% more muscle than those who slept more than 6 hours each night.
While sleep may be difficult to get, make an effort to schedule at least 7 hours of sleep into your day. Proper sleep will enhance your workouts to help you reach your training goals.
Photo source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/timothykrause/