For this week’s question, I am addressing the third component of ideal body composition: Sleep. Before I go forward, I know “ideal body composition” doesn’t sound sexy but the reality is weight loss is a horrible premise for setting goals…as weight loss does not equate to looking better. And some people have a hard time keeping their weight up. The ideal premise for goal setting for all of us, regardless of our goals is idea body composition; low body fat, high lean muscle volume and symmetry.
This week’s question is from Frank:
i am a classic hard gainer with a very small appetite and an extremely high metabolism – i only sleep 3, maybe 4 hours a night – just how i am wired. So a blast furnace all day long – i am 54 and have weighed within 6 pounds of my college playing weight my whole life, which sounds like a nice problem, but it bores me lol. My struggles are to get in enough good quality calories to sustain growth. I eat extremely cleanly, and supp with protein shakes to try and give me the boost. I workout 5 to 6 x a week – and being the father of 4 athletic kids, I’m very active even when not at the gym
I love this email because there are so many things to address that can help everyone. Classic Hard Gainers is actually a misconception. For every “hard gainer” there is a story or reason behind it. What’s holding Frank back is most likely negatively effecting your body too…just in a different way.
Why Sleep Deprivation Makes us Stressed, Hungry, Fat and All Messed Up
- Hormonal imbalance: A vicious cycle occurs that disrupts our hormonal homeostasis: excess stress hormones, reduced sleep inducing melatonin and low growth hormone production.
- Lack of recovery: Your body rebuilds itself during deep sleep, especially in your bones, skin and muscle cells because growth hormone is released. Although GH declines naturally with age, poor quality sleep, low percentages of lean muscle and low melatonin levels can cause it’s production to drop off even further
- Increased levels of cortisol: High cortisol fuels appetite and makes us feel hungry…especially for sugary high carb snacks which lead to a plentiful collection of fat around the belly.
- Increased Appetite: Appetite enhancing hormone ghrelin increases while metabolism enhancing and appetitive suppressant leptin decreases…leading you to eat more then your body needs
How much sleep should you have?
Make it your goal to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night. I know this is not easy for you, its not for me either but remember It’s Progress Not Perfection.
10 Tips to Get Better Sleep
1. Black out your room: Close shades, cover clocks, DVDs and Cell Phones (which should also be on silent). And yes I wear a sleeping mask and it happens to have flowers on it, WHAT OF IT?! To my defense it was the only sleeping mask left and it happens to be dam comfortable.
2. Give your body at least one hour to digest before sleeping: Going to bed on a full stomach will keep you up!
3. Do something that calms you down: Read a book, write, practice your breathing etc,. Now most experts would say don’t watch TV but personally TV before bed helps turn off my mind from working. If you do watch TV, have a timer so it turns off.
4. Keep the room cool: 65-68 degrees in warmer months and 68-72 in cooler months. Body temperature is directly related to our level of wakefulness.
5. Download a white noise app to listen to block out external noise and calm your mind.
6. If you get up to pee every few hours like me, keep the lights off as much as you can…while maintaining control & aim of course 🙂
7. Don’t sleep with pets or kids: Its crucial you reach a deep REM sleep for maximum recovery and this is only possible with minimal distractions.
8. Have sex: Studies show the more sex you have, the better your hormonal health.
9. Use 11:00 pm as the cut off time to sleep: Regardless of what you have to do, follow these tips accordingly so you are primed for sleep mode by 11:00 pm. From there, cut this back by 15 minutes until you are getting in your 7 or 8 hours.
10. If you toss n turn, get up and do something that will calm you (refer to #3): Tossing and turning will boost cortisol levels.
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