Sunday, January 20, 2013
Sleep's Role in Recovery and Fat Loss
Exercise and clean and healthy eating have been known to positively affect our health and well being for several years. But what most people don’t understand is that real results happen outside of the gym. That might be a kind of odd statement from a person that makes a living teaching people about the benefits of exercise and nutrition in a gym setting. But it is true.
It is pretty common for me to witness members in the gym exercising 1 or even 2 times per day. Then repeat the same process for 6 or 7 days each week. The sad part is many of them look (and probably feel) the same as they did when they started this process. So why do so many exercisers spend so much time training like people “say they should,” and unfortunately more times than not, don’t get the results that they are looking for? There can actually be several reasons for this lack of results… not exercising at the right intensity…eating too much food, especially the wrong foods…believe it or not, eating too little food…doing the wrong types of exercise…not exercising enough… exercising too much. Or maybe, most people are not allowing their bodies to actually recover between bouts of exercise.
Think about it this way. When we break a bone, the part of the bone that we break actually heals back stronger than it was before. What actually helps us in this process is a little thing called PAIN. When we break a bone is hurts like hell! The nociceptors in that injured area tells our brain to stay off this injured area. This allows that bone to heal, and it heals stronger than ever. But what if we didn’t have those nociceptors that transported pain signals to our brain and tell us to stay off of this injured limb. What if after we broke that leg we just woke up the next day and said, “I need to stay healthy. I need to get better… lets go for a run”. If you could not feel pain and were in a cast, you might be able to go out on that run. You might repeat this pattern day in and day out. But then you go back to the doctor and they take the cast off and get another x-ray. What do you think the results would show?
Now, lets go back to exercising in the gym. Every time we lift weights or go for a run we create small micro-tears in our muscles. When these small tears heal our muscles now become bigger, stronger, or leaner and more toned depending on how you are training and what you are training for. Our muscles also have these nociceptors. Usually the pain we experience in strength training is not nearly to the same level as a broken bone. So what do we do? We ignore it! We have all experience what we call DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). DOMS is completely normal. Unfortunately, there is a very popular but very inaccurate phrase thrown all over the commercial fitness industry. “No Pain, No Gain!”. So off to the gym we go to “work through” that pain. And for a while we do continue to get a little stronger or a little faster. But then a weird thing happens. Our bodies begin to break down even faster, and then the next thing you know we are getting slower and weaker. Some of the most likely causes of this breakdown is lack of rest, lack of sleep, and poor nutritional habbits.
So, lets talk about sleep and it’s role in recovery and fat loss. As I mentioned in the newsletter intro, this article is just the highlights of a great presentation Matt Mallard, Master Level Trainer will do in the near future for all of our clients.
Lets start by defining sleep: a natural periodic state of rest for the mind and body, in which the eyes are usually close and consciousness is completely or partially lost, so that there is a decrease in bodily movement and responsiveness to external stimuli. During sleep the brain in humans and other mammals undergoes a characteristic cycle of brain-wave activity that includes intervals of dreaming.
Sleep is typically broken down into 5 stages. The first 4 being “Non-REM” sleep and the 5th being, “REM” sleep.
· Stage 2: relaxed muscles and a slowing of brain waves. Makes up about 50% of sleep time.
· Stage 3/4: deep sleep and large, slow brain waves. These are the restorative stages where hormones are released and body chemistry is balanced.
· Stage 5: You brain is active and you dream. Your eyes move under your eyelids, rapid eye movement (REM)
Theories as to why REM is important
· Monoamine suppression
o Allows the monoamine receptors in the brain to regain full sensitivity, effectively “resetting” the receptors
o Important to us because norepinephrine is a catecholamine that gets released in response to stress (exercise)- presentation explains this in more detail
o Directly increases heart rate, triggering the release of glucose from energy stores, and increasing blood flow to skeletal muscle
· Consolidation of memory
o Numerous studies have suggested that REM sleep is important for consolidation of procedural memory and spatial memory
o “Important to us because procedural memories are automatically retrieved and utilized for the execution of the integrated procedures involved in both cognitive and motor skills; from tying shoes to flying an airplane to reading”-cited from a study explained in the presentation
o In other words it help to build the muscle brain connection
Why is non-REM (NREM) sleep important???
· Blood pressure drops as well as Heart Rate
· Your brain is resting, allowing an increase in blood availability to your muscles. This delivers extra amounts of oxygen and nutrients that facilitate muscle healing and growth.
· Your pituitary gland releases a shot of growth hormone that stimulates tissue growth and muscle repair (as it enters this stage of sleep).
· During NREM sleep we see the most amount of physical recovery
· Missing out on this type of sleep can drastically affect
o The ability of the body to synthesize glycogen
o Increase cortisol levels
o Decrease Human Growth Hormone levels
So how much sleep should each one of us get?
· 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep is what is recommended
o This allows the body to go through the 5 sleep cycles, which you cycle through approximately every 90 minutes.
o Less than this is considered a lack of sleep
Have you actually monitored how much you sleep? I have. I “got an app for that!” Over the last 182 nights that I have monitored my sleep using an app on my iPhone called “Sleep Cycle”. I have averaged 6:28 minutes in bed per night. Now keep in mind, that is my actual time in bed. It takes me approximately 15 minutes to fall asleep each night, so I am probably only averaging a little over 6 hours of sleep per night.
So, what if I am not getting that minimum of 7.5 hours per night that is recommended? You might have sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation occurs if you are getting 4 hours or less of sleep per night. And if that is the case you might be experiencing some of the following:
Affects of Sleep Deprivation:
· Reduces glucose tolerance
· Reduces endocrine function
· Hastens the onset of, but could also increase the severity of age-related ailments such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity and memory loss
The US Air force has done extensive studies on the effects of sleep deprivation. Here are some of their results.
· They found profound alterations of glucose metabolism, in some situations resembling patients with type-2 diabetes
· When tested during the height of their sleep debt, subjects took 40% longer than normal to regulate their blood sugar levels following a high-carbohydrate meal
· Their ability to secrete insulin and to respond to insulin both decreased by about 30%.
A similar decrease in acute insulin response is an early marker of diabetes.
· Sleep deprivation also altered the production and action of other hormones, dampening the secretion of thyroid stimulating hormone and increasing blood levels of cortisol, especially during the afternoon and evening.
· Elevated evening cortisol levels are typical of much older subjects and are thought to be related to age-related health problems such as insulin resistance and memory impairment.
The Air Force concluded: "While the primary function of sleep may very well be cerebral restoration our findings indicate that sleep loss also has consequences for peripheral function that, if maintained chronically, could have long term adverse health effects."
So, How Lack of Sleep Affects Fat Loss?
Remember that when we try so hard to get correct nutrient timing, the goal is to manipulate 4 different hormones
· Insulin: This is an anabolic hormone that signals the body to store. It signals glucose to be stored as glycogen in muscle cells and the liver.
o Insulin sensitivity goes out the window. We lose the ability to properly convert glucose to glycogen.
o As seen in the study before, this mimics the effects of Type II Diabetes
· Cortisol: Is a stress hormone that is catabolic. That means it facilitates breakdown.
· Its primary functions are to:
o Increase blood sugar through gluconeogenesis
o Suppress the immune system
o Aid in macronutrient metabolism
· Prolonged, elevated levels of cortisol can lead to muscle wasting and decreased bone formation
· Testosterone: THEE anabolic hormone responsible for:
o Increase in protein synthesis
o Stimulates bone marrow, increasing
o RBC count
o Stimulates the growth of muscle
o Increase in lypolysis
**Lack of sleep not only limits the amounts of testosterone we produce, but it also decreases the T/C ratio
· Human Growth Hormone:
o Decrease in body fat
o Increase in muscle mass
o Increase in bone density
o Increased energy levels
o Increase in protein synthesis
o Increase in lypolysis
o Stimulates the immune system
· HGH continued…
o Remember that as adults we only produce about 400 international units per day, where adolescents produce close to twice that amount.
o Decreases can lead to:
§ Believed to lead to elevated cholesterol levels
§ Weight gain, especially around the waist
§ Decreased muscle mass
§ Feelings of anxiety, depression, or sadness causing a change in social behavior
In Conclusion: All this alludes to getting good sleep. We typically sleep in 90- 110 minutes cycles. Waking at the end of these cycles is important to feeling rested. Waking up in the middle of stage 3 can result in taking up to 30 minutes to become alert and actually “awake”. It is recommended that we sleep between 7.5 to 9 hours. Notice the 90-minute difference between the 7.5 to 9 hours to allow us to go through the appropriate sleep cycles. It is also recommended that we sleep in cool conditions with a uniform body temperature.