10 Ways Sleep Deprivation Can Wreck Your Fitness Goals

5 min read

Let’s cut to the chase. We can agree that a night of tossing and turning means you’re about to have a mess of a day. But we can’t leave it at that, because there’s every chance you’ve made peace with making do with 5-6 hours of sleep during weeknights. You can always catch up with a couple of monster lie-ins on the weekend. Right? No.

Bad Sleep Interferes With Every Process In The Body

Think about that for a second. There’s no mechanism that doesn’t depend on sleep in order to function optimally. Your fitness goals could well be hinging on your ability to grab a good night’s rest.

Here’s a non-exhaustive selection of undesirable, inevitable features that come parcelled in with regular bills of insufficient naptime. And without hyping it up too much, don’t read beyond this point if you’d rather just continue living without the extra guilt.

10 Ways Insufficient Sleep Ruins Your Health

  1. Sleep Deprivation Reduces Insulin Sensitivity – Yep, that’s the one aspect of fat loss that I never shut up about. If you’re unable to take in sugar through an efficient insulin system, every jam doughnut comes marked with hazard lights. Lethargy, irritability, and a desire for more doughnuts will soon follow. The opposite end of the sensitivity spectrum, insulin resistance, is the gateway for weight-gain, pre-diabetes, and obesity.

  2. And You Can’t Play Catch-up Over The Weekend – Studies have shown that this sunken state of insulin sensitivity built over a week of sleep deprivation, doesn’t get rescued with a weekend of lie-ins. You can’t make up for lost sleep.

  3. Gives You The Munchies – An influx of cannabinoids in the blood will essentially give you the munchies, turning snacking into an hourly fixture. And it’s snacking that may well be the biggest cause of weight-gain.

  4. Stops You Feeling Full – You’ll be more prone to make bad judgement calls on food portion sizes, as you won’t feel full until you’ve reached for too many fistfuls of crisps.

  5. Leads To Increasingly Dangerous Food Choices – Sleep deprivation can be just as cognitively challenging as a state of drunkenness, and the temptation of alleviating the stupor with a large dose of energising sugary food will often prove too much. This is why late-night eating can be a terrible idea. Set a three-hour curfew around bedtime.

  6. Impedes Recovery – Muscle isn’t built in the gym itself, that merely marks the start of the domino effect that eventually gets you the dream body. Muscle is made at rest, and sleep comes to the forefront as the essential ingredient to a full recovery. Without adequate amounts, you’ll be entering session after session at a depressingly static level of strength.

  7. Neural Fatigue – In the same vein, the inevitable build up of tiredness means that your muscles aren’t going to fire as hard and fast as they could at their best.

  8. Lowers Testosterone (Or Oestrogen) – The primary sex hormone does more for you mentally than you might realise, and they sink hard over periods of sleep deprivation. As a result, you’ll lack motivation, focus, and you simply won’t build muscle anywhere near as quick.

  9. Immune Problems – You’re not going to be gaining anything special if you’re frequently getting taken down by the fresh bug on the block. There’s a reason we tend to sleep more if we’re deathly ill, it’s the primary mechanism for the body’s immune function. Without it, you’re going to be getting on your knees to every little virus you come across.

  10. You Won’t Notice Any Of This – The worst part of being sleep deprived? The body tends to get used to the new state of affairs, adopting the new status quo. It will feel normal, and you won’t know better. So you’ll be stuttering through precious months of gym-time without realising that your energy levels are at half capacity. 

The Lowdown – Chronically Bad Sleep Ruins Everything

So that’s that. There’s plenty more to throw, but I don’t like taking these lists over the ten mark. The consensus is clearly that regular sleep deprivation, which is anything below six hours, is going to assault your progress in the gym from all conceivable fronts. Sleep can interfere with every bodily process.

And that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Fixing your sleep may see you regain energy you hadn’t realised you lost, pushing the process of muscle building to a level you thought wasn’t possible without daily supplies of vitamin S. 

If you have the option to dash in the gym for a hurried workout before last calls, or rack your sleep count up to 8 hours, it’s a no brainer. Win the night, and you’ll be in the best position to win the day.

How To Fix Your Sleep

Bulletproof Sleep is my step-by-step guide to building the perfect bedtime routine, all with simple actionable steps. Check out part one here.

Bulletproof Sleep – Week 1

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