New here? Like Athlean-XX for Women on Facebook to stay up to date with new posts, great fitness and nutrition articles, motivations and inspirations, fitness challenges, Q&As, giveaways and more!
Yep, you heard that right. There is actually just one main key to decreasing your body fat that doesn’t involve your diet or exercise. It’s the one crucial thing that you are probably not doing that could be the make it or break it key to your weight loss.
It’s also the one behavior that most of us ignore as being critical to our health, making it tough for most of us to change. Ladies, it’s sleep. Yes, I know you’ve heard this one before, but have you taken heed? Are you sleeping 8 to 8.5 hours per night? If not, it could be affecting your body fat percentage, your weight loss, your fitness goals and your health.
Let’s have a look at why sleep is so important and what you can do to change your sleeping habits.
THE CASE FOR GETTING MORE SLEEP
Recent studies conducted by Laval University in Quebec compared the body fat loss of overweight dieting individuals who either got 5.5 hours of sleep or 8.5 hours of sleep. By the end of the study, those who got 8.5 hours of sleep lost significantly more body fat than those got 5.5 hours…65% more! Another study by the American Heart Association showed that sleep deprivation caused participants to eat more. Those who were only allowed to get two-thirds their normal amount of sleep per night (about 5.5 hours) ate more than 500 additional calories each day. Yet another study published in July looked at 245 women in a 6 month weight loss program found that women who slept more than 7 hours per night were 33% more likely to succeed in their weight loss efforts.
Why is sleep so important to weight loss? Levels of several hormones involved in appetite are affected by sleep including leptin, ghrelin, cortisol and orexin. All of these hormones will work to make you feel hungrier and eat more. Also, as the most recent Canadian study shows, lack of sleep also leads us to hang onto our body fat even if we’re dieting. If you think about it, it makes sense. Our primitive bodies are smart. They automatically do whatever is necessary for us to have the energy we need to survive. When we’re consistently low on energy – whether that be from lack of food or sleep – our bodies react by storing fat as an energy source to be used later.
5 STEPS TO START GETTING MORE SLEEP
If you feel like you’re simply too busy to get a full 8 or 8.5 hours of sleep per night, it might be time to adjust your priorities. If you want to feel and be healthy and lean, getting the sleep you need is a must! Are you an insomniac? Does it take you more than 30 minutes to fall asleep at night? Here are a few steps to getting started on the path to falling asleep earlier, falling asleep faster and getting more sleep overall:
1) First, set a consistent goal bedtime. If you usually get up at 6:00, set your goal bedtime to 10:00. Once you’ve gotten yourself accustomed to this bedtime (see Step 2), stay as consistent as possible with this time, even on weekends.
2) If you’re accustomed to getting to bed fairly late, it can be hard to change this habit, as well as difficult to fall asleep at an earlier hour. Instead of trying to go to bed 2 hours earlier right from the start, begin by going to bed 15 minutes earlier tonight. Stick with this bedtime for a few days, and then push bedtime back another 15 minutes. Continue until you’ve reached your goal bedtime.
3) Turn off technology about 1.5 to 2 hours before bed. While most of us tend to tune out with the tube or play on the computer until bedtime, the lights and stimulation can leave us tossing and turning awake in our beds once the lights are out. Instead, consider journaling, reading a book or lying in bed talking to your partner.
4) Head spin at night with thoughts of all you have to do tomorrow? Start writing them down before bed. Planning out your day tomorrow and getting it all down on paper helps free your mind of all the details when you’re trying to fall asleep.
5) Eat a small snack right before bed. At Athlean-XX for Women, we recommend air-popped popcorn. It’s low in calories and high in fiber, and will calm your hunger and give your digestive system a job to do while you sleep. Eating a small snack late at night also helps boost your metabolism by not allowing it to slow and go into fat storage mode.
At Athlean-XX for Women, we see women’s overall health as crucial to long-term success in maintaining weight loss and fitness. A desire to lose weight and get fit should include taking care of yourself in all aspects of life. Taking rest days and getting adequate sleep are just as important as your nutrition and fitness plan! Our Athlean-XX for Women plan fitness includes rest days to make sure that your body reaps the benefits of our tough 30 minute workouts. In fact, muscles need rest to grow, since they grow while they’re repairing themselves!
If you’re ready to make a positive change in your lifestyle, we recommend you give Athlean-XX for Women a try. You’ll be amazed by how great you’ll look and feel after just 90 days!
And finally, if you’d like to stay up to date with the AthleanXXforWomen.com blog, then please like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and follow us on Pinterest.
P.S. We are a growing community dedicated to and passionate about realistic fitness and nutrition for REAL women. If you enjoyed this post please feel free to share on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. It would be incredibly appreciated!