Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company. This blog is a unique perspective of one persons journey into fitness. Not all clients and participants at Parsons Training undergo the same training, and each person makes his or her own decisions regarding dietary discretions.
By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training Center, Tucson, Arizona
April 23, 2018
Sleep has always been an issue for me. With my weird hours and my now fairly sedentary life, the battle of sleeping too much and not moving enough has been my constant battle. My work to life balance is a bit skewed right now, and I am seeking to make some better changes to make this work better for me. But the other problem is the sleep. I don’t sleep very comfortably most days, with a lingering shoulder problem that makes it difficult for me to get a full night of sleep. And then of course I have the horrible habit of falling asleep when I get home from a stressful day of work, not only losing my desire to sleep but also not moving around enough to burn up some energy and calories. I keep telling myself I will improve tomorrow, but that rarely seems to happen as I keep falling into some bad habits. So yes, I have been struggling with a few things right now, but the obvious reason for some of my malaise lately is the lack of sleep, or more truthfully the lack of quality sleep.
This really should not be a big deal for people when you think about, for we live busy lifestyles and we are going to lose sleep from time to time. I mean, if 10-12 hour work days are good for the Japanese and they can still look decent and live longer, then it is good for us Americans. Okay, let us not fall into that major rabbit hole. Anyway, effort and a false sense of energy is not the true key to fitness and good health. Regeneration is, and that comes in the form of rest. Think about it in this effect. You take a decent little vacation somewhere relaxing, sleeping in, eating the local fare and enjoying the serene surroundings of a different area. Once you get back, you feel a little recharged in regards to work and your life, for you realize you are not stuck in a certain lifestyle and you now have the impetus to save up again and make another run for a vacation. This can easily be applied to fitness. You get in a good workout, get a good sleep on and the next day, you want to do it again. I was at my peak when I was oddly working very little. I slept more and thus when I went into the gym or went running, I was happy to do so and felt recovered. So yeah, having a much more stressful and sedentary job life has made it rough for me, but not entirely impossible. So clearly being able to get more regenerative rest made it easier for me to improve in my fitness game.
There is plenty of science to back this up. https://www.shape.com/lifestyle/mind-and-body/why-sleep-no-1-most-important-thing-better-bodyOne of the best parts of getting rest is the fact you are allowing your body ample time to regenerate and recover from the tough workout that you had the previous day before. But here is the biggest reason why sleep is so important….it has a better control of your appetite. One thing that happens as you sleep is you burn calories, and the more you sleep the more you are going to burn. The general rule of thumb is that the average person burns .42 calories per pound per every hour. So if you are 150 pounds, you would burn roughly 63 calories an hour or 504 calories per eight hours. That can be quite the workout for many people, and this would help reduce your body weight significantly if you are doing this consistently. Now of course, a lot of people are trying to survive off six or five or even four hours of sleep per night. Your caloric burn is just not going to be up to standard, and this is going to lead to a heap of other problems. If you don’t burn enough calories, then you are not going to burn fat consistently. Your body will naturally start storing the fat more carefully because it might think you are in a stressful situation and therefore, will need to save the fat stores. If you do not get enough sleep, then your body is going to be tired as hell and this is where the next problem in the process begins…your body starts revolting against you and begins demanding calories.
It doesn’t take long to find a bevy of sources on the internet to see the correlation of sleep deprivation and food cravings. https://www.mensjournal.com/food-drink/lack-sleep-increases-junk-food-cravings/When you are not sleeping enough, your body is just not operating at full tilt. You need a boost and often times our body starts craving a sugary super charge to help with the process. That’s where the donuts and muffins and whatever else is out there starts coming into play. When I helped Jon with some lighting at the new Northwest Location of Parsons Training (coming soon!!), he offered to get me a donut. The one upside of being vegan is the fact sweets are hard to come by and thus I cannot load up on sweets too much, so when he got a vegan chocolate donut from Whole Foods, it was like a carnival in my mouth. I felt so good and relaxed that my body was demanding more. When I went to Whole Foods later to get some Field Roast sausages and a sandwich, I walked by the sweets display and my body was screaming. I will admit, I did not get much sleep the night before because I started playing an old video game I really enjoyed. I maybe got six hours of sleep that night and supplemented with some coffee. After spending a few hours going up and down a ladder, my body wanted some grub. I felt like buying all three types of scones and the two types of donuts to take home and pig out. Fortunately I resisted but that urge was strong and the fact I did not feel like spending too much at Whole Foods kept me at bay (they do not call it “Whole Paycheck” for nothing). This little moment for me at Whole Foods was indicative of what the small study I just posted is talking about. When we are sleep deprived—at least when it comes to men—the pleasure receptors in our brains start activating and thus the pretty pictures of unhealthy food entices us. In my case, I really wanted to get the sweets….and the Kettle potato chips that were close by…..and even the non-vegan pizza that was next to the sandwich shop at this particular Whole Foods. While this might have more to do with my food addictions, there is a good reason this may be something that has to be studied in greater detail. Whether it be in men and women, the pleasure receptors in our brains make it hard to resist beautiful displays of food. This may be why food photographers have so many tricks to make their food look beautiful and presentable. https://petapixel.com/2016/03/24/photos-show-secret-tricks-food-photography/
Of course, the other side of the coin is the fact that you can become addicted to sugar, as in eating the sweets and putting way too much sugar in your coffee. Or you might get that caramel abomination from the local coffee shop, which may as well be a crack pipe if you are getting it every day. You only do these things because you need that wake-up for the morning. So yes, sleep plays a gigantic role in your weight loss journey. It not only helps you recover from the day’s workout, it can even be considered a good workout for you in general! The lack of cravings will play an even bigger role because like I mentioned before, we may be hard wired to eat and crave sugar because our body is tired and in need of a power boost. An indulgence might be okay from time to time, but on the other hand it is easy to get addicted to sugary and salty snacks. So yes, get that rest!
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About Parsons Training
Parsons Training is a Tucson leader in fitness and personal wellness training. Every personal trainer with this company designs and implements effective fitness programs for their clients; these programs serve as the foundation for good health, fitness, and wellness. Additional information about Parsons Training is available at http://www.parsonspersonaltraining.com
Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company.
About Our Blog
Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.