Common Mistake #2: Inadequate amount of sleep

26 05 2010

Our second mistake from our “Five Common Mistakes Athletes Make” (May 17th, 2010) is not getting the amount of sleep necessary.  Inadequate sleep has been shown to decrease muscle gain and increase fat gain.  Sleep affects both behavioral and metabolic characteristics that play a role in how much muscle and fat you have.  A study completed in Europe found that for every hour less than 8 that women slept, they had on average 3% more body fat.

Sleep loss affects the body’s levels of certain hormones.

Lack of sleep is associated with decreased levels of growth hormone and increased levels of cortisol.  The result of these changes is inadequate muscle recovery, fat storage, and muscle loss.  Aim for 8 hours of sleep each night.  Getting enough sleep is imperative for the body to maintain optimal function.

Some research has shown that when tired, people crave more sweet foods.  Combine this with increased cortisol & insulin, and you are set for fat storage.

Lack of sleep affects exercise intensity.

Because your body did not properly recover overnight, you tend to compensate by reducing your intensity during workouts.  You also lower the intensity of your normal daily activities (walking around campus).  This combination results in fewer calories burned daily.

Bottom Line:  Get a minimum of seven consecutive hours of sleep.  Aim for eight.

© Randy Bird, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS and Randy Bird Sports Nutrition, 2010.