Today, more than ever, it is vital to be healthy, and if getting fit and toned is your goal, getting enough sleep is imperative. In a 2018 study, it was shown that diminished sleep not only leads to weight gain, it also leads to the loss of lean muscle tissue. Without the proper amount of sleep, the chemicals that send signals to your brain telling it you are full after eating a meal will not be balanced. This uneven message leads a person to overindulge, even after they’ve had enough to eat.
The Parallels Between Sleep and Weight
Sleep directly affects two main hormones when it comes to hunger control.
- Leptin – This hormone tells the brain you’ve had enough to eat.
- Ghrelin – This hormone tells the brain you are still hungry.
Insufficient sleep can also decrease your resting metabolic rate (RMR), the number of calories your body burns when you are entirely at rest.
The Parallels Between Sleep and Muscle
When we don’t get enough sleep, we feel too tired to work out, and exercise is good for you. Exercise builds muscle, and muscle burns calories, whereas fat does not. The more muscle you have, the more calories you end up burning and the more toned you’ll be. This is why many athletes complement their health and fitness routines with additional fitness supplements to ensure their bodies are getting an adequate amount of protein each day.
During sleep, muscles replenish and build back up from exercise, but muscles require protein. When broken down during digestion, protein produces the amino acids the muscles need to repair and grow. As you sleep, many things occur, including:
- The pituitary gland releases growth hormone (GH)
- GH then stimulates the body to produce insulin-like growth factor (IGF)
- IGF assists in getting carbs into the muscle cells to provide the energy required to use the amino acids
- The amino acids repair the broken down muscle as well as creating new toned lean muscle tissue.
The Parallels of Sleep and Nutrition
Making healthy choices when it comes to food is vital for overall health and wellness. Eating healthy can make a big difference not only for your workouts but also for your sleep. Choosing fruits, vegetables, whole grains (high in fibre), and vegetable oils (low in saturated fat) is far more beneficial for the body and sleep quality.
Selecting foods that improve brain chemicals such as melatonin and serotonin are extremely helpful for sleep. Low levels of either of these can contribute to insomnia.
Fortunately, certain foods help in aiding the sleep process.
- Some fruits – Certain fruits contain melatonin, which can help you fall asleep and wake up less during the night.
- Tart cherry
- Kiwis (If you have insomnia, eating two kiwis before bed may help increase your sleep duration.)
- Foods high in lean protein – The amino acid tryptophan is found in foods that are high in lean protein, which can increase serotonin levels.
Avoid white, refined carbohydrates as well as sugar and baked goods. These products tend to reduce serotonin levels, which can impair sleep.
5 Ways to Improve Sleep
- Meditate – Meditation relaxes the mind and calms the clutter of thoughts that may prevent sleep from occurring.
- Decrease stress – Finding ways to alleviate stress will help both the mind and body.
- Turn off all electrical devices – Television and cell phones should be turned off at least 30 minutes before going to bed.
- Exercise daily – Try to include core workouts into your exercise routine to help tire the body out, resulting in a longer and better quality of deeper sleep, further contributing to repairing and rebuilding the muscles.
- Make healthy eating choices – Choose foods that are low in sugar, high in fibre and nutrient-dense.
When you close your eyes and go to sleep, your body is just getting started on its job of repairing and rebuilding, so if your sleep is interrupted, your body’s work is also interrupted.
Most adults need to sleep between 7-9 hours per night. By exercising and making healthier food choices, your body and mind will function better, helping you to be more vibrant, energetic, and focused throughout your daily life. It just goes to show how important sleep is when it comes to getting toned and healthy. “Getting your beauty sleep” takes on a whole new meaning!