Sleep is vital – whether you are following a weight loss program, promoting muscle growth, recovering after a workout or just living an active life.

One of the major factors that I have come across while working in the fitness industry is the importance of sleep. To be more specific, the lack of it. Sleep deprivation has all sorts of side effects, including a link to weight gain and poor recovery after exercise.

Getting enough sleep raises your metabolism and helps to suppress your appetite. It also helps promote muscle growth and allows the body to recover from exercise. There a several hormones that sleep (or the lack of) effects, some more than others.

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hormone book

The ones that I shall cover here are:

Cortisol
Leptin
Ghrelin
Growth Hormone

Cortisol is a very common cause of stomach fat, it is also known as the “stress hormone”. Getting between 7-9 hours of sleep each and every night helps to lower Cortisol levels in blood, whereas a lack of sleep, raises these levels. Studies have shown that individuals with lower Cortisol levels have a higher, faster metabolism than those who have high levels of Cortisol in their blood. We all know that the faster your metabolism, the easier you will lose weight.

There are two hormones in the body that play an important role in suppressing and stimulating your appetite. These are Leptin and Ghrelin. Ghrelin is released in your stomach, and is responsible for increasing your appetite. Leptin, is produced by the body’s fat cells, and helps you to stop feeling hungry. A lack of sleep will lower Leptin levels and increase levels of Ghrelin, thus increasing your appetite and making you hungry.

When you are sleeping, your pituitary gland secretes more GH (growth hormone) than when you are awake. With high levels of growth hormone, your metabolism speeds up. As mentioned earlier, the higher metabolism, the greater your weight loss.

sleeping feet

Sleep also plays a vital role in muscle recovery. Lowered energy consumption is a biological mechanism to save energy. We would need many meals per day (rather than the normal 4-6 for fitness participants) if we did not get enough sleep.

When we train, the body works hard. Once we stop exercising, the body needs energy to help the muscles grow and repair. While we are sleeping the body uses food we have eaten during the day to replace energy and rebuild muscle. So, while we are resting, the body is repairing – and that is why sleep is so important. Have a great sleep tonight!

 

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