It seems that in large part, the hectic American lifestyle could be to blame for nationwide sleep deprivation.
With our busy schedules, and the ever-increasing social forces surrounding us on a daily basis, we seem to be spending less and less time in bed.
This is because there never seems to be enough time in a day to get everything we "need" to done, and so we find ourselves rising earlier and going to bed later...
Which might not seem like a big deal ... but the reality of the situation is that your sleeping habits can impact your energy levels, memory, outward appearances, and performance.
A fun fact; one night without sleep can leave you performing like you were legally drunk at a blood alcohol content of .08 percent.
If you’re sleeping poorly on most nights, the negative effects could be worse.
THE IMPACT OF POOR QUALITY SLEEP
There are a host of health problems that can be associated with chronic sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation can make you more susceptible to colds, flu, and other infections.
It can cause you to feel irritable and experience mood swings, reduce your ability to deal with stress, as well as increasing your chances of having depression and anxiety.
In short, most aspects of life are largely dependent upon sleep.
For example, a number of studies have reported changes to key hormone levels and recently, how many calories your body burns the day after an ‘all-nighter’.
Additionally, large studies over the course of several years regularly show that decreases in how much you sleep each night can progressively increase your risk of developing obesity and diabetes-related complications [1, 2].
One of the greatest examples of this found that women who sleep less than five hours per night had the highest body weights of women in the study.
In comparison, women who slept a normal amount (7 to 8 hours) had what was considered to be a normal body weight .
POOR SLEEP QUALITY AND FOOD INTAKE
While many theories exist, a number of studies have reported that being low on sleep increases the level of ghrelin, particularly in the early morning hours [3, 4].
Ghrelin is a hormone that is produced mostly in our stomach and when produced, it signals our body to be hungry while also decreasing how many calories are burned by the body .
Scientists feel like these increases are some of the first cues by the body to help compensate for the lack of sleep and stress placed on the body as a result of the low levels of sleep.
Whether it’s related or not to the changes in ghrelin, studies which have imposed short-term decreases in sleep have shown that the total amount of food consumed over a 24-hour period was increased.
This was the case particularly in foods considered to be snack foods or which could be characterized as calorically dense ... or on the flip side, lacking nutrient density [6-8].
POOR SLEEP QUALITY AND ACTIVITY LEVELS
In addition, studies have also shown that when the body is sleep-deprived, natural levels of physical activity (which will burn calories and help maintain a favorable balance) are decreased .
Makes sense right?
I know when I’m exhausted, I tend to not move around as much, but when considered as a whole, these changes all lead to a greater calorie surplus (you’re eating more calories, and burning less calories) which over time will increase body mass and levels of body fat.
Recently, a study reported that just one night of complete sleep deprivation decreases energy expenditure by 5% at rest, but this decrease was 4x greater after a meal was consumed, resulting in a 20% reduction in the number of calories being burned by the body .
There are pretty consistent findings showing that going without adequate sleep is a surefire way to get your body out of whack and off-kilter.
Putting on pounds of muscle or losing fat can be challenging enough … depriving yourself of quality sleep will make it even more challenging.
QUALITY VS. QUANTITY
The quality of sleep we get is crucial, not just the quantity.
Sleep consists of two types of slumber: REM sleep includes rapid eye movement and dreaming, while non-REM sleep includes four stages ranging from light to deep sleep.
Each night you pass through 4-6 cycles of REM and non-REM sleep.
It is in these deeper stages of sleep that the body restores itself, giving you that refreshed feeling. As we age, we typically spend less time getting the stage-four kind of rest.
7 TIPS FOR BETTER SLEEP QUALITY
If you want to set your body up for earning the best results possible, making quality sleep a priority in your life is a great place to start. You might be asking yourself, “what can you start doing today to increase your sleep quality?”
- Limit Your Caffeine Intake In the Afternoon – Avoid caffeine, pre-workout with stimulants and caffeinated tea before bed as too much caffeine and stimulants will inhibit your body’s ability to unwind and relax.
- Exercise Daily (Preferably NOT Before Bed) – Partaking in daily exercise will help you fall asleep easier and improve your sleep quality. The morning or early afternoon are the best time to get a workout in without disturbing your sleep at night. If you usually train in the evening, I recommend having a calming ritual after your workout to help your body wind down after the rush of endorphins caused by exercise.
- Cool and Dark Bedroom – If you are too hot or cold while sleeping it can cause a restless night. The best temperature for sleeping is between 60°F and 67°F, as it can vary for every individual. Try to keep your bedroom cool by using a ceiling fan and blocking out light with proper blinds or curtains that shut out heat and light. In addition to that, you can actually take a cool shower to help your body cool down prior to bed (cool, not ice cold).
- Natural Supplementation – Utilizing supplements with proven ingredients to help with relaxation and calming of the mind and body can improve sleep quality.
- Don’t Force It – When sleep does not come easy, get out of bed, go into another room, and engage in some type of quiet activity until feelings of sleepiness return. Personally, I like to hit some pages from the current book I am reading!
- Watch What You Eat – Eating before bed, especially lean protein sources, can have many benefits for fat loss and muscle growth, just make sure you don’t over-do it. A Level-1 shake is a great option to give your body some fuel and high-quality protein as it goes into repair and recovery mode of restful sleep, without making you uncomfortably full. Stuffing your face before bed can cause restlessness due to indigestion.
- Limit Screen Time — It can be easy to scroll through social media, or watch tv until you go to bed. However, this screen time can be detrimental to your body's ability to get truly restful sleep. Limiting screen time before bed, having a social media curfew, or even investing in blue-light blocking glasses can help!
All in all, sleep is an important aspect of your life to allow your body to work effectively.
Whether it’s decreasing how many calories are burned by your body, increases in hormones that cause you to eat more food, poor recovery, overall fatigue or any of the other negative consequences from poor quality sleep ... the impact of poor sleep rears its ugly head in many directions.
- Patel, S.R., et al., Association between reduced sleep and weight gain in women. American journal of epidemiology, 2006. 164(10): p. 947-54.
- Taheri, S., et al., Short sleep duration is associated with reduced leptin, elevated ghrelin, and increased body mass index. PLoS medicine, 2004. 1(3): p. e62.
- Schmid, S.M., et al., A single night of sleep deprivation increases ghrelin levels and feelings of hunger in normal-weight healthy men. Journal of sleep research, 2008. 17(3): p. 331-4.
- Spiegel, K., et al., Brief communication: Sleep curtailment in healthy young men is associated with decreased leptin levels, elevated ghrelin levels, and increased hunger and appetite. Annals of internal medicine, 2004. 141(11): p. 846-50.
- Nakazato, M., et al., A role for ghrelin in the central regulation of feeding. Nature, 2001. 409(6817): p. 194-8.
- Brondel, L., et al., Acute partial sleep deprivation increases food intake in healthy men. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 2010. 91(6): p. 1550-9.
- Koban, M., et al., Sleep deprivation of rats: the hyperphagic response is real. Sleep, 2008. 31(7): p. 927-33.
- Nedeltcheva, A.V., et al., Sleep curtailment is accompanied by increased intake of calories from snacks. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 2009. 89(1): p. 126-33.
- Schmid, S.M., et al., Short-term sleep loss decreases physical activity under free-living conditions but does not increase food intake under time-deprived laboratory conditions in healthy men. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 2009. 90(6): p. 1476-82.
- Benedict, C., et al., Acute sleep deprivation reduces energy expenditure in healthy men. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 2011. 93(6): p. 1229-36.
- Irwin, M., et al., Effects of sleep and sleep deprivation on catecholamine and interleukin-2 levels in humans: clinical implications. The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism, 1999. 84(6): p. 1979-85.