Who Needs Sleep?

If you are trying to lose weight, YOU do!

It is all too common for Americans to get far too little sleep. We work long days, stress out about work when we get home, watch too much tv, stress out some more before we go to sleep, and then wake up and do it all over again. When I am going through my initial intake with new clients, I find that most people are getting 5-6 hours of sleep each night. That might be enough to function, but it isn't enough to achieve fantastic fitness results.

While most people don't realize it, sleep is a vital part of your fitness program. Think about all of the time and effort you put into exercising and watching your nutrition, do you really want to sabotage that by being sleep deprived? Of course not!

So, how bad is skimping on your sleep habits? Depending on what you look at, it may have a significant impact. Numerous studies have linked chronic lack of sleep with a significant increase in the incidence of heart disease. That means it just may kill you.

If it doesn't kill you, it will screw up your hormone levels. A few of the more significant hormones that are linked to sleep are Growth Hormone, Cortisol and Leptin. Growth Hormone helps your muscles to repair themselves and grow stronger after exercise. When you do not get enough sleep, this level drops significantly. This will negatively impact results, by not allowing your muscles to fully recover. Eventually you will start to feel very fatigued and see a lack of performance.

Cortisol has gotten a lot of press lately and is known more commonly as "the stress hormone." It is directly linked to stress and leads to muscle deterioration and fat gain. Proper amounts of sleep actually brings down your Cortisol level. If you aren't getting enough sleep, that hormone stays elevated and continues to break down muscle and slow down your metabolism.

Finally, we have Leptin. This is a hormone that works to decrease your appetite. When it is at an optimal level, you have a reduced appetite. Like the other hormones, it's directly related to sleep. When you get enough sleep, it works to decrease your appetite. If you don't get enough, it can have the opposite effect.

So, the next time that you are tempted to stay up later than you should, think about your fitness program. If you are really serious about it, try your best to get around 8 hours of sleep on a fairly regular schedule.
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