Sleep and the appropriate amount of rest plays a huge part in the success of every goal, be it sports performance training, fat loss or muscle gain. Modern technological advances and the way we function as a society has made that success very challenging. In 1910, the average adult slept nine to 10 hours per night. Currently, we are lucky to get seven. The body is greatly effected by this.
Mammals are hard wired to store fat, become insulin resistant and get high cholesterol during the longer days of summer and then to sleep (hibernate) or at least starve for a while, become insulin sensitive again and drop cholesterol levels when the days are shorter (winter). This cycle was programmed into our physiology over thousands of years. Electricity and the light bulb brought endless light, which the body interprets as endless summer. Now, we don’t sleep (hibernate) and we don’t starve (for carbohydrates).
Literally, the later you stay up at night, the more your brain will force you to seek energy for storage by eating sugar (carbs). Again, your body is thinking “endless summer before the winter.” Sugar is the only path to insulin release. Insulin’s job is to store excess carbs as fat and cholesterol. Cholesterol levels increase to lower the freezing temperature of the cell membranes in preparation for the hibernation that never comes.
Additionally, all of these late nights equate to massive “light toxicity.” This condition causes excessive paranoid, aggressive, hysterical and urgent behavior, otherwise known as stress. In this chronic state, blood sugar is elevated, taxing the insulin response, increasing cotisol levels in the blood, which has powerful blood sugar mobilizing effects. This means, if you are not paying attention to these factors, signs and symptoms and you stress yourself out too much, exercise can make and keep you fat!
No matter the goal, sleep (or the lack thereof) can have a huge impact on not only performance, but the goal itself. If you're not sleeping well and under a lot of stress, this alone can effect your body and increase the level of body fat. For a recovering athlete, muscle recovery is slower, thus resulting in an extended injury cycle. Along with balanced nutrition, proper hydration and an integrated, organized strength training routine, a good amount of sleep can make a big difference in your success and overall health.