People are asking me what makes my new book, Lose Weight and Feel Great different. I think one of the biggest differences is that with this book I try to fill in the missing pieces that people need to transform themselves once and for all. For that reason, topics like mindset, sleep quality, and life balance are addressed in addition to specific nutrition strategies. After doing this for so long, I’ve realized that you can’t just isolate certain aspects of health and fitness and expect optimal results.
When it comes to the different components of a Total Body program, sleep is towards the top of the list. You simply can’t cheat sleep if you are striving for optimal health or performance.
I challenge you to consider your current sleeping habits and do just one thing to make it better.
One of the most common questions I hear is, “How many hours per sleep do I need per night?” I understand the question as I used to ask it myself. I would hear different answers from the “experts” ranging anywhere from 6.5 to 9. What confused me is that sometimes I would get only 6 and feel amazing while other times I would get 8+ but still wake up tired. That’s when I realized it was all about quality and not just quantity. Sure, there’s a low end ceiling we don’t want to go below, 5-6 hours for most people. Other than that, it’s about sleeping smarter, not necessarily more.
Our brains need to shift gears and enter into the different sleep cycles for us to experience the energy giving hormonal cascades that occur during the different stages. Unfortunately many people unknowingly ruin their sleep quality. The consequences can be disastrous. In fact, the field of epigenetics is showing us that sleep deprivation may literally change our genes and increase our likelihood of cancer and heart disease. Some medical experts claim that by the year 2030, one out of two people will be stricken with cancer. Melatonin, which is released during sleep, may be one of the best ways to prevent cancer.
Screen time and sleep
Blue light, which is the light we get from screens such as desktops, laptops, and smart phones increases cortisol and suppresses melatonin. Have you ever been on your phone right before bed and then wake up feeling exhausted? This could be why. Blue light can disrupt sleep double the amount of other light. Set a screen curfew of at least 1 hour before bed if possible.
Caffeine and Sleep
Ever hear someone say that caffeine doesn’t prevent them from sleeping? Maybe you feel that way? While you still might be able to fall asleep, studies show that your sleep will be much less effective. In fact, you could be losing up to an hour of sleep. For example, if you sleep 8 hours, you may be getting the equivalent of only 7 hours of sleep. Caffeine like screen time, increases cortisol which is the last thing you want to do before bed. Caffeine has an 8 hour half life meaning 8 hours after you ingest it, half of it will still be in your system. Consider limiting your consumption to the early part of the day.
What temperature should the room be?
I always sleep so much better with my air conditioner on. I used to think it was because of the noise. It turns out it’s probably more due to the temperature of the room. Our body naturally reduces its temperature at night. 62-68 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal. If that’s too cold for you, consider wearing warm socks or using a heavy comforter.
Sleep consistency is key
Our bodies are looking for balance or homeostasis. One of the worst things we can do is wake up at different times each day. Get into a rhythm of waking up the same time each day even if you don’t have to. Early risers seem to have more energy throughout the day. While I think it’s better to go to bed earlier, the consistency may even be more important. The hours of 10PM – 2AM seem to be the most effective for getting through the sleep cycles.
Sleep and Fat Loss
The University of Chicago conducted a sleep study where they compared people on a restricted diet getting 8.5 hours of sleep versus getting 5.5 hours of sleep on the same diet. They lost 55% more body fat when they slept more. I defy you to get those kinds of results from just working out more
My last point is arguably one of the most underrated components of a health/wellness program. Out of the glucose that goes to our brain, 14% is from our pre-frontal cortex. That’s the decision making part responsible for social control and the like. It starts to starve when we are sleep deprived and causes many people to mistake productivity for business.
Wishing you better slumber!
– Billy Hofacker – Owner & Transformation Coach at Total Body Boot Camp – BS, CSCS