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Sleep Stages!

How’s your sleep?.. 7-9 hours are suggested for optimal recovery but most only get 5-6 hours or less.. Why is this a problem?.. A very simplified answer is our bodies rely on this time to rebuild, repair and restore our cells and all systems within us.. If we don’t honour our bodies with this time then we end up with problems effecting our training and our ability to adapt to it.. When i say adapt I mean things like building strength, growing muscle, producing enzymes that facilitates energy and even fat loss etc.. The unfortunate thing is not many people prioritise sleep & continue to grind out diets & exercise regimes that plateau quickly or just frustrate them by not getting much closer to their goal.. This leads to failure as the chances of us defaulting to whatever the easiest option is to get us through we grasp with dear life for ease and comfort!.. Lack of sleep seriously exacerbates this problem by ramping up our reward centre so you’ll be looking for a nice dopamine hit through food, drink or anything that isn’t healthy or exercise related for a quick fix!... Decision making is also poorer as the brains frontal lobe activity is dulled, thus helping you justify poor habits and choices.. Research is vast on sleep and the adverse health effects... Studies report lack of sleep increases appetite and snacking on high carb foods whilst reducing insulin sensitivity and increasing stress hormone cortisol... In short all this means is your more likely to store fat or at least find it much more difficult to metabolize it... Many studies also demonstrate fat and weight loss inhibited by lack of sleep compared to non-sleep deprived individuals, just go google it!.. Consider the stages of sleep in the infograph and the 90min cycle continually repeating itself through the night as you slumber.. If you wake up then you re-start the cycle, meaning you won’t spend enough time in stages 3 & 4 for example where muscle/tissue growth/repair happens.. Many other health related factors such as hormone production will also be inhibited. Hope this brings awareness towards your sleep behaviour but also consider the Circadian Rhythm in the infograph below being our sleep-wake cycle encoded into our DNA since the beginning of time... Our bodies and minds have been propelled in the last 30 years or so into a lifestyle that works in most ways against this natural cycle and when this happens our health suffers... If we could adhere to our Circadian Rhythm cycle more consistently then our health & fitness will flourish... Check the infograph it explains this very well... To keep this simple if we can sleep better everything improves from hormones, recovery, performance, less binge eating, reduced risk of illness & disease to many others.. So, here’s a few tips that might help you get a better night’s sleep and make much better gains from training!... 1) Reduce blue light exposure close to bedtime, that is no phones, TV etc especially in the bedroom... You could try downloading a blue light blocking app or use blocking glasses... 2) No caffeine 4 hours before bed for obvious reasons and try not to eat to late... 3) Try to stick to the same sleep-wake times each day and avoid random or long daytime naps... 4) Avoid alcohol research reports this has many negative effects on sleep including altering melatonin production (is the wine/beers worth it every night?)... 5) Improve sleeping environment to black out all light, reduce noise and maintain room temperature of around 18-20 degrees... 6) Change mattress & pillows for better comfort... 7) Have a wind down routine to relax about 30-60 mins before bedtime like reading, bathing, chilled music, meditation etc... I hope this info helps and with many books and research papers available on the benefits and problems with sleep we need to try and make a serious effort to improve our own!

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