It sounds crazy to advise someone to get a good night’s sleep. After all, who wouldn’t get a good night’s sleep if they could?
The answer may be those who don’t appreciate the power of this technique for stripping or preventing ugly body fat!
Bodybuilders have known for years that plenty of good quality sleep is a useful, even crucial addition to their box of tricks and techniques for fat reduction. After all, it is while resting with spare energy that muscle growth and repair take place, not in the middle of an intense gym session. The hard “pumped” effect is blood-flow that rapidly wears off within an hour or so.
Once again what bodybuilders have known for decades is seeing a glimmer of mainstream acknowledgement, although just what causes the prevention of body fat sparks differing opinions.
From just a couple of BBC articles we can get a number of different ideas or opinions:
“…sleeping less might alter the number of calories a person burns when at rest.”
“…people who sleep less might also be less prone to involuntary activity such as fidgeting, which can help to burn off calories.”
“…it might be that people who sleep less are more tired, and therefore less active during the day.”
“…one factor might be that the longer people stay up the more likely they are to eat.”
“…the key might be that sleep deprivation alters the balance of hormones which control the rate at which we burn off calories.”
Any knowledgable bodybuilder will tell you that last quote, from the researchers of a study by the US National Institute of Mental Health, published in the journal Sleep in 2004, is the right one.
While the nervous system controls both voluntary and involuntary/subconcious movement, the thing that affects our body’s more general behaviour is our hormone mix There are far more hormones in the human body than most people realise and a major aspect of the Biggly Body Plan is deliberately altering your body’s hormones through behavior
The article mentioned above related to a study that followed over 60,000 women for a full 16 years, making it by far the largest study of its type and producing some pretty solid figures. For example women sleeping less than 5 hours a night were around 33% more likely to put on at least 33lbs of flubber! Likewise those sleeping 7 hours a night or more were the least likely to become obese over the study period.
In my book I dedicate an entire chapter to debunking the notion that fat stripping is all about “calories in versus calories out”. The human body is not a conventional machine and while computers for example are known for spitting out exactly what you put in (“garbage in, garbage out”) the body is a little more complex, not least because is responds to input rather than merely processing it.
The article also states, quoting Dr Patel:
“Prior studies have shown that after just a few days of sleep restriction, the hormones that control appetite cause people to become hungrier, so we thought that women who slept less might eat more.
“But in fact they ate less. That suggests that appetite and diet are not accounting for the weight gain in women who sleep less.”
Well that pretty much blows away the simplistic notion of “It’s because you eat so much” doesn’t it?
The specific hormone he’s talking about is leptin, known for it’s ability to trigger a sense of fullness and thus reduce cravings. It is also known that going without sleep can produce cravings specifically for high carbohydrate or high fat foods, as the body seeks a quick surge of energy. I think we can add in addition that people up late get peckish but don’t fancy making a full-course “meat and two veg” dinner and will tend to reach for easy snacks, usually junk food that comes in bright and colorful packets and with no protein whatsover but plenty of unpronouncable chemicals.
So just how much sleep do you need?
While there seems to be a fixation on the number 8, as in 8 hours of sleep, 8 glasses of water of 8 ounces each or even 8 sets of 8 reps the actual number is not the issue. The point is to try to work within what your body wants to do, as opposed to what you can force it to. I’m by no means innocent of staying up into the early hours hotly debating with someone in a completely different time zone on the internet but the point is simple enough – if you feel tired the next day you need more sleep.
Ensure you get plenty of sleep and you’ll see your BBI (Biggly Body Index) number rise higher and faster without even having to exercise or restrict your diet further. Now that’s “exercising” smart, not hard!