Many of you already know the importance of nutrition and training on health and body composition but, what about rest? We haven’t talked about its importance yet!
What do studies say? 🤓
📌 Lack of rest or sleep can not only lead to the feeling of tiredness, but it can also be the reason why you no longer see the desired changes in your body composition.
📌 Not only has the importance of sleep been shown in regeneration processes and the immune system, but also that lack of rest and sleep, along with disruptions in circadian cycles such as shift work (something very common today) lead to numerous pathologies and disorders such as the following (Lunn et al., 2017) (Liu et al., 2018):
- Worse insulin sensitivity.
- Greater feeling of hunger and less satiety (increased ghrelin and resistance to leptin).
- Related to a higher risk factor for depression, cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes…
📌 In addition, when it comes to calorie restriction (eating fewer calories than you expend) focused on fat loss, it has been seen that people who sleep longer lose more fat and maintain more muscle mass than people who sleep less (Wang et al., 2018) (Nedeltcheva et al., 2010).
⚠ ATTENTION: The quality of sleep is as important as the amount of sleep!
Strategies to improve sleep
Over the past few decades, both sleep quality and quantity has declined. In fact, many people regularly get poor sleep.
Here are some tips to sleep better at night:
Increase bright light exposure during the day 🌞
Your body has a natural time-keeping clock known as your circadian rhythm. It affects your brain, body, and hormones, helping you stay awake and telling your body when it’s time to sleep.
Natural sunlight or bright light during the day helps keep your circadian rhythm healthy. This improves daytime energy, as well as nighttime sleep quality and duration.
Reduce blue light exposure in the evening 📱
Exposure to light during the day is beneficial, but nighttime light exposure has the opposite effect.
Again, this is due to its effect on your circadian rhythm, tricking your brain into thinking it’s still daytime. This reduces hormones like melatonin, which help you relax and get deep sleep.
Blue light — which electronic devices like smartphones and computers emit in large amounts — is the worst in this regard. There are several popular methods you can use to reduce nighttime blue light exposure. These include:
- Wear glasses that block blue light.
- Turn “night shift” mode on in your phone at least 1h before going to sleep.
- Stop watching TV and turn off any bright lights 2 hours before heading to bed.
Don’t consume caffeine late in the day ☕️
Caffeine can stay elevated in your blood for 6–8 hours. Therefore, drinking large amounts of coffee after 3–4 p.m. is not recommended, especially if you’re sensitive to caffeine or have trouble sleeping.
If you do crave a cup of coffee in the late afternoon or evening, stick with decaffeinated coffee.
Reduce irregular or long daytime naps 😴
While short power naps are beneficial, long or irregular napping during the day can negatively affect your sleep. Sleeping in the daytime can confuse your internal clock, meaning that you may struggle to sleep at night.
However, some studies demonstrate that those who are used to taking regular daytime naps don’t experience poor sleep quality or disrupted sleep at night.
If you take regular daytime naps and sleep well, you shouldn’t worry. The effects of napping depend on the individual.