This New Year everyone else and yourself included is going to “go hard” in the gym and “eat clean”, as I have discussed in previous blogs this is not the way to achieve your goals. The main reason being it’s unsustainable for any given length of time but theres also another reason why and this reason is the one I am about to discuss. This secret factor, that is always over looked will not only help you achieve your goals but also make it sustainable, and that secret is…….
You may not consider it a secret as you know about resting right? But do you really? Most people actually don’t and don’t even consider it as part of their new healthy routine to become fitter and leaner. Like I pointed out earlier everyone talks about “going hard” in the gym and “eating clean” in the kitchen, but what about the rest for energy and mental recovery. We are now in an era where sleep is looked at negatively. People are proud to announce they only sleep for 6 hours, or they took no rest days the past 12 weeks from their diet or training, it seems like sleep and recovery are things to be ashamed of.
But they aren’t, they need to be taken seriously as you will learn in this blog.
I have recently been learning about the importance of sleep by reading a book called “Why We Sleep, The New Science of Sleep & Dreams”, the book has blown my mind and has taught me so much on the benefits of sleep and the consequences of not getting enough. To use a strong examples, did you know that one night of only 4-5 hours of sleep could drop your natural killer cells by 70% (the ones that fight cancer cells that appear in your body everyday). A lack of sleep is linked to high blood pressure, low sperm count, heart attacks, stroke, Alzheimer’s, motor accidents and more. A lack of sleep is linked to 6000 fatal accidents per year, thats 16.4 deaths per day everyday for a year.
Because of the scientific evidence on sleep The Guinness World Records have stopped recognising attempts for breaking the sleep deprivation records. Recall that The Guinness World Records allows a man to ascend 28,000 feet out of the atmosphere in a hot air balloon wearing a space suit, open the door of the capsule, stand on a ladder above our planet and then free fall back down to earth at a top speed of 834mph, passing through the sound barrier whilst creating a sonic boom with his body. But the risks associate with sleep deprivation are considered to be far far worse.
A Few Reasons Why Sleep Will Help Your Goals
A lack of sleep is linked to obesity, getting an inadequate amount of sleep causes your Leptin levels to drop and Ghrelin levels to increase. The hormone known as Leptin suppresses your appetite whilst the hormone Ghrelin increases your appetite, a harmful mix when you are trying to lose weight. Not only does your appetite increase from a lack of sleep but so does your eating window. Someone who sleeps 5 hours per night will have a larger appetite and 3 hours extra eating time compared to someone who sleeps for 8.
Theres no surprise that a lack of sleep and recovery can lead to a decrease in performance in the gym, recall the last time you had a poor night of sleep. Did you feel full of energy ready to tackle the day or did you feel weak and miserable? Your energy levels and performance after a good nights sleep greatly outweighs them after a bad one. By ensuring you are well rested your performance in the gym will increase, resulting in greater calories burnt and strength built.
You don’t actually build muscle in the gym you build it whilst you are sleeping. When you are training in the gym you are acutely tearing and damaging your muscles by placing them under stress. It’s not until you go to sleep and recover that your body will start to repair your damaged and torn muscles. This is why eight hours is recommend, to ensure your body is fully recovered and repaired.
Sleep also improves your immune system, productivity, response time, effort levels, mood, strength, willpower and so on. So be sure you are adding this into your “New Year, New Me” to do list if you want to receive great results.
The Importance of Rest
Rest away from the gym and diet also has it’s benefits, by scheduling in diet breaks and deload weeks in the gym you drastically increase your ability to adhere to your new programme.
Diet breaks are good for psychological benefits, imagine how you’d feel if I told you you couldn’t eat any of your favourite treats for a whole year. Certain foods can link endorphins in our brain that’s why a lot of people turn to comfort eating, it lowers our stress levels and places us in a happier mood. Taking those foods away completely can leave us stressed and unhappy, so why do you try and do this every January? Instead schedule in diet breaks and weekly treats to help keep you sane and boost your adherence. Diet breaks can also increase fat loss, remember our good friend Leptin from earlier that helps us feel full? Long periods of aggressive dieting can also cause these levels to drop, introducing diet breaks can help boost these levels high again. To be clear diet breaks does not mean bingeing, just increasing your calories to maintenance level for a day or two.
Incorporating a deload week can also be beneficial to your body and your goals. What is a deload week? A deload week is where you either take a week off from the gym completely or lower the intensity and volume of your training. The benefits of scheduling them into your programme is that they prevent sticking points (aka plateaus), improves your immune system and reduces the risk of injury by giving your central nervous system, joints and muscles a chance to fully rest and recover. Deload weeks also come with psychological benefits by giving you a chance to fully rest, relax and recover. If you still want to train in your deload week I recommend either Low Intensity Cardio or halving the amount of weight you lift.
So as you can see there are many benefits to getting enough sleep and recovery whilst trying to achieve your goals this New Year. When creating your plan be sure to schedule in enough rest and allow your body 8-9 hours of sleep opportunity.
To reduce the length of this blog my next blog will features tips on how to increase your levels of sleep and rest.
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Thanks for reading :)