This past week the east coast was hit by one of the worst storms in over a century, Hurricane Sandy. New York City, the city that never sleeps, suddenly came to a standstill. While the region began its recovery Tuesday morning, many of us were unable to work this week. This lull in work gave me an opportunity to recover from a full work and training schedule, catch up on some sleep, and brainstorm on some blogging, which I have not kept up with in months.
Many of you know Im a big fan of Dr. John Berardi, and Precision Nutrition. This week as I was catching up on sleep, going from an average of 7 hours per week to 8, John posed several questions and research articles on sleep and how it affects the way we metabolize food, and its consequences on body composition and performance.
Many of us are very good at maintaining a consistent training schedule, yet sleep and sleep quality, our tools for recovering from a workout, and metabolizing food, take a back seat. According to Precision Nutrition's "All about Sleep," the average adults gets 7 hours of sleep per night. 33% of adults get 6.5 hours or less. A century ago, adults averaged 9 hours a night. This is attributed to many of the modern day distractions we have, and what sleep researchers are calling voluntary sleep curtailment.
Consequently, research is finding a correlation between sleep, insulin resistance, and subsequent obesity. While I do not work with a largely obese clientele, I do work with many people who have body composition goals. The challenge is motivating my athletes to place a greater focus on the recovery process of fitness, and less so on the stimulus. At the end of the body composition continuum, managing several smaller areas of your recovery can add up to big results. Inadequate sleep, and diets high in refined carbohydrates and artificial sweeteners, chronically elevate insulin levels. This begins to dull the bodies sensitivity to insulin, inhibiting not only the transport of sugars into muscle for growth, but the ability to burn fat as well. Excess blood sugar is then stored as body fat, while the rest continues to circulate throughout the body, wreaking havoc on other systems.
In addition to insulin shutting down our fat burning capacity, many anabolic hormones are inhibited, compounding an already retarded muscle building process. Studies in young healthy men have shown that in just 2 days of 4 hours of sleep per night, our hormone balance is disrupted. After just 2 days of low rest, the participants had the insulin sensitivity of a pre diabetic 70 year old man! Failure to get several full cycles of sleep each night resulted in lowered growth hormone secretion which not only inhibits muscles development but can also tapers exercise performance, though the exerciser may feel like their working hard.
Decreased Human Growth Hormone (HGH) = decreased muscle building and recovery Decreased Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) = decreased metabolism Increased Cortisol = decreased insulin sensitivity, increased stress levels
We know that consistent strength training boosts both insulin sensitivity, and anabolic hormone activity. Perhaps you have been following a consistent strength program, but are negating it with poor macronutrient choices and timing, and poor sleep. If your routine has not been yielding the results you see others getting, maybe its times to improve on some these other areas of heath and fitness.
For more info on ways to improve your fat burning capacity with both sleep, nutrition and training see these link below.
http://www.t-nation.com/readArticle.do?id=1526539 Alywn Cosgrove's Hierarchy of Fat Loss