Sleep is a daily requirement for your body to maintain its functionality. Strength training is the exercise you do to improve your strength and endurance, usually through resistance. Fat loss is the process your body undergoes when it reduces its body fat percentage.
They are all important for your health, but the way your sleep affects your strength training and fat loss is what I will be looking at here. This is because sleep is something that you should be doing every day and the recommended sleep for adults is at least 7 hours per day.
There are 4 stages of sleep being the Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) of sleep which is broken into 3 stages and then you get Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleep. These all play a great part in the sleep cycle, from the relaxation of the body, recovery, growth and deep sleep that occurs in the NREM stages to the point where your brain becomes more active in the REM stage and more vivid dreaming.
The Importance of Sleep for Strength Training
When you’re strength training you’re most likely lifting heavy weights in the gym. Your performance in the gym is highly dependent on your energy levels and sleep helps boost your energy levels that you might’ve lost from the previous day or even during the day if you take naps.
Strength training comes with the micro tearing of your muscles when you’re lifting weights and they require recovery. Sleep helps you recover through protein synthesis, which is a process in which your cells make protein. Protein is the building blocks of your muscles.
Your body secretes growth hormone that is important in stimulating the growth of tissue and muscle repair.
The Importance of Sleep for Fat Loss
When you want to lose fat, it is important to be in a calorie deficit i.e. consuming less calories than you burn. Sleep is important for fat loss to increase the chances of this happening, but there are things that occur during your sleep that also increase your fat loss.
Sleep helps you control your diet, much like Intermittent Fasting, the less time you have to eat, you can reduce the amount of calories that you consume. Obviously, this is highly dependent on what you eat throughout the day.
The recovery of your muscles is important for your fat loss because the more muscle you have, the more energy that is required to grow and maintain it. Therefore, by ensuring that you get at least 7 hours of sleep to repair and recover your muscles, the more calories you will burn.
Your metabolism is the process by which your body converts what you eat and drink into energy. Your metabolism slows down in your sleep, but more importantly, poor sleep can actually reduce your metabolism more when you’re at rest (Resting Metabolic – RMR) because you’ll lose more muscle than fat the longer you’re awake as more energy is used for your muscles. The less muscle you have, the more your RMR decreases.
Lack of sleep can also increase insulin resistance. Insulin is the hormone that regulates the metabolism of your macronutrients (carbs, protein and fat) by promoting the absorption of blood sugar (glucose). When you’re insulin resistant, your cells don’t respond well to insulin, this reduces the absorption of glucose by your cells and it builds up in your blood.
What You Can Do to Improve The Quality And Benefits Of Your Sleep
There are foods that you can eat to improve the quality of your sleep. Supplements are available which can aid in your sleep and improve the benefits of your sleep for strength training and fat loss. Resources are also available which will give you tips on improving the quality of your sleep and constant reminders.
1. Foods That Can Help You Sleep Through The Night
Almonds contain melatonin, which is a naturally-secreted hormone by the body to help control your sleep-wake cycle. They are healthy snacks to have being high in unsaturated fats and protein which can benefit the repair and recovery of your muscles in your sleep. A handful can go down well before going to bed.
2. Chamomile Tea
The chamomile herb has traditionally been known to assist with insomnia (problems falling and staying asleep). Other than its benefits still being researched in terms of improving the quality of sleep, a warm cup of chamomile tea can be a routine that can mentally prepare someone to go to sleep.
3. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish can help improve your sleep quality as it is high in vitamin D and Omega-3 fatty acids which regulate serotonin in our bodies. Serotonin is a hormone that stabilizes our mood and well-being, but also helps establish a fixed sleep-wake cycle. It can make for a great dinner protein option, assist in increasing your protein amount and maintaining your muscle during sleep.
2. Supplements For Better Sleep And Recovery
Melatonin is a hormone that is naturally found in the body and secreted by the pineal gland. There are melatonin supplements on the market that can help you sleep faster and improve your quality of sleep. The recommended dose is 1 to 5 mg before bed.
2. 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP)
5-HTP is derived from an amino acid called tryptophan and it’s used to increase serotonin levels. Serotonin is a hormone that stabilizes our moods and well-being as mentioned above. It comes in a capsule form and the recommended dose is 150 to 450 mg per day.
3. Whey Protein
Whey protein is a mixture of proteins taken from the by-product of the production of cheese called whey. Protein being the building blocks of muscle, to improve protein synthesis in the muscles for recovery, it’s best to drink whey protein before bed. Drink at least 20g of protein.
3. Tips For Better Sleep
- Don’t Consume Caffeine Late In The Day
Caffeine improves your energy, focus and performance. When you consume it later in the day, it can cause you to have energy and prevent you from relaxing during the night. This in turn will negatively affect your quality of sleep. Try not to consume caffeine after 3-4 pm.
2. Don’t Eat Late In The Evening
Eating late at night and even before you go to bed can prevent your body from digesting the food and it moving into your small intestine. This can cause indigestion or heartburn and a very uncomfortable night’s sleep. Nutrionists usually recommend you to eat at least 3 hours before you sleep.
3. Stay Informed Using Digital Resources
The quality of your sleep is highly dependent on your personal preferences, from what you eat and drink to your favorite sleeping positions. Do your own research and learn more to find what works for you. The Coach Men’s Health App is constantly providing the best tips to help you sleep better, your strength training and fat loss journey. Go check out and also get exclusive content from me!