I was listening to an interview the other day on overall health and wellness. During this podcast, a world renown doctor was being interviewed. This doctor was discussing the idea of increasing our perspective/approach when it comes to our individual wellness journey. He talked about the four pillars of wellness from his perspective which relates to the overall message of the Spark brand extremely well. The four pillars he talked about were movement (exercise), diet (nutrition), sleep, and renewal. Most fitness professionals will focus more on the first two pillars but sometimes neglect the other two. During this blog, I want to dive more specifically into the pillar of sleep and how extremely important it is in regards to reaching your goal.
Before going any further, I want to point out that I am not against people who sacrifice sleep. In the same way, I am not against people that sleep more than recommended. In regards to any health related topic, I believe it is a personal choice that each individual should make. However, what I hope to do with Spark is bring information, content, and light into how specific topics might help you along your wellness journey.
After saying that, I do find it interesting that our modern society tends to applaud people who sacrifice sleep for work. In the same manner, I think it is interesting how most coaches focus on diet related questions but neglect the topic of sleep when it comes to helping clientele.
For the most part, I believe people understand sleep is good for you. It helps your muscles/mind recover, it regulates hormones/mood, and just feels good. However, I'm not sure many people understand it's direct correlation and connection to body composition (fat loss, fat gain, etc). I dove into some research connecting sleep and fat loss and the findings were astounding.
I found a sleep/exercise study done by the University of Chicago. This study used two groups. Each group followed a consistent exercise routine, diet (caloric intake), and lifestyle variables. However, one group got 8.5 hours of sleep a night and the other group was sleep deprived, only sleeping 5 hours a night. After a two week period measurements were taken. Both groups lost roughly the same amount of weight (6 lbs). This makes sense because we know weight loss comes down to caloric intake. However, what was extremely interesting was the sleep deprived group lost only 1.3 lbs of fat. The group that got 8.5 hours of sleep every night lost 3.1 lbs of fat. Furthermore, a hormone called Ghrelin rose in the group that was sleep deprived. Ghrelin is partially responsible for fat oxidation and controlling hunger levels.
So what does this tell us about sleep and fat loss? This study shows while caloric intake is responsible for weight loss, sleep plays a role in what type of weight is lost. Furthermore, sleep will help control hunger levels and as a result make fat loss more enjoyable (also increasing consistency within a caloric deficit).
Wellness is multifactorial so we can't just focus on exercise or just focus on nutrition or just focus on sleep. It's a combination of a lot of factors and building habits that create consistency and sustainability within this areas. If nothing else, I would encourage you to start tracking your sleeping habits. Aim for an average of 7 hours of sleep per night. Some nights you might not be able to get that and some nights you might be able to get more. Digitally detox 60 minutes before bed (remove phones, tablets, or bright lighted screens) and create a consistent waking period in the morning. If you are still struggling to get sleep then take advantage of less busy days and find time for 15-30 minute naps (something is better than nothing). Increasing the quality and quantity of sleep will immediately help you begin to look, feel, and move better in everyday life. If you have specific questions or if there are things that I can help you troubleshoot, hit the button below. Your best is yet to come!