If you're working hard in the gym and staying on top of your nutrition game, but you're struggling to see any fat loss results, having a consistent good night's sleep could be the missing factor in your journey.
Sleep is one of the most crucial factors to your health, and affects so many aspects when it comes to your physical and mental wellbeing.
Move With Us Founder Rachel Dillon, shares her experience on how much of a difference sleep makes to your health and fitness.
“For the last few months, I have been having the most broken sleeps, and waking up anywhere from 5-8 times a night, it wasn't good. Sleep is so underrated when it comes to fat loss, and can really damage your results if you're sleep deprived. By implementing some changes I have noticed a massive improvement in retraining my sleep patterns".
We teamed up with Rachel to deep dive into exactly how you can improve your sleep quality and get back to feeling good, to help you achieve the results you're chasing.
Whenever you see information on fat loss, you’ll usually see loads of education on nutrition and exercise, but sleep quality is often overlooked, yet extremely important.
In fact, research shows that dropping your sleep from 7-8 hours a night to just 5-6 hours can damage your fat loss progress in as little as 2 weeks. Not only can a lack of sleep slow down your fat loss, it also makes you at risk of losing muscle mass, despite seemingly training and eating correctly for your goal.
If you’ve ever woke up and felt starving after a bad night’s sleep, it could be due to sleep deprivation disrupting the hormonal regulation of your appetite. If this is a recurring pattern you'll often find yourself wanting to eat more, and in turn can lead to weight gain if you're regularly eating above your energy expenditure.
Don't stress if you’ve had more than a few nights of tossing and turning and you’re worried about ruining your hard-earned fat loss results. There’s a number of tools and tips you can incorporate to improve your sleep and get back on track to your goal.
Ways to improve your sleep quality
Be mindful of your caffeine intake
We all know that caffeine is there to get us up and going on days where we’re feeling sluggish, and it’s no secret that it can have a disruptive effect on sleep. It’s important to take a step back and look at how much we’re consuming at once, and if it’s adding up without us realising.
Everyone’s caffeine sensitivity is different, but it’s generally recommended that healthy adults consume no more than 400mg of caffeine in a day, and no more than 200mg at one time. And that counts for all sources of caffeine! Pre-workouts, soft drinks and even chocolate all contain it, so it’s worth taking a look at what you’re consuming in a day, and if you think you might be going overboard — cutting back to see the difference it makes.
Caffeine isn't the enemy - it can give you a healthy energy boost to get through your day, but moderation is the key to stop it from keeping you away at night.Rachel found that simply switching how she consumes her caffeine made a huge difference to her sleep.
“Replacing my morning coffee with tea was one of those easy switches for me! Tea still contains some caffeine, but less than my typical coffee. I have been loving T2 Morning Sunshine. And if I ever want to enjoy a coffee later in the day, I’ve been having decaf - it has the same great taste without adding excess caffeine into my day”.
Don’t drink too much water before going to bed
No one likes the feeling of having to get up in the middle of the night because your bladder said so. Not only do you have to leave a comfy bed, but it often disrupts your entire night of sleep and leaves you feeling groggy the next day.
Drinking too much water (or any other beverages) right before going to bed is what will cause you to get up throughout the night. While it’s important to stay hydrated, if you find yourself making more than a few trips to the bathroom check how much water you’re drinking in the PM.
Rachel aims to consume most of her daily water intake well before bedtime so she can get an uninterrupted nights’ rest.
“I’m a big water drinker and aim for 3L a day - but also try and have all of it before 4 PM. Then I just have my evening cup of tea”.
Look at your eating habits
Fan of a late night dinner or snack? The effects of eating soon before you sleep vary greatly, so we’re not here to say you can't go for that snack.
In fact, it even comes with certain benefits, like stable blood glucose levels and curbing any middle of the night cravings. But for some people, eating before bed can lead to discomfort and indigestion, which can affect your sleep quality through the night.
If you’ve found yourself feeling uncomfortable or bloated while you’re trying to sleep, it’s often recommended you eat your last meal 3 hours before bedtime. But if you can't do that, there’s nothing wrong with eating close to bed! Just be mindful of caffeine-containing foods like chocolate. Most importantly, always listen to your body.
Check your Vitamin D levels
Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, is produced when you spend time in the sun. It's great at helping our bone health and is also amazing at helping regulate your sleep patterns.
Being Vitamin D deficient on the other hand, can wreak havoc on your sleep, leading to a number of issues like poor sleep quality and overall tiredness. To prevent this, getting out in the sun can definitely help, as long as you’re being sun smart and not overdoing it. If you suspect a Vitamin D deficiency though, chat with your doctor about a solution.
Watch your screen time
We can all fall victim to endlessly scrolling through your phone and binge watching Netflix at night, and if so, you might have felt how much of a disruption it can be to your sleep quality.
Not only can going through high volumes of information late at night make it hard to switch off your brain and rest, but the light exposure from bright devices can disrupt your melatonin regulation sleep hormones and make it harder to fall asleep.
So save some screen time and create a technology-free bedtime routine with minimal-low lighting to help you get a good nights sleep.
Create a bedtime routine
A good bedtime routine is a clear ritual of activities you perform each night usually 30-60 minutes before you head off to bed. While it can feel tough to create new habits and break the old ones, setting up clear tasks will eventually become an automatic routine that helps you unwind each night, and send signals to your brain that it’s time to relax.
A helpful tip from Rachel is to drink a sleepy tea that lets your body know it’s time to start winding down and actively makes it easier to.
“An hour before bed I have the T2 The Dreamer tea to help ease my mind, it's made falling asleep much easier. Sometimes I'll also add a Valerian supplement when I feel stressed or my mind won't settle".
Start tracking your sleep
To keep track of just how much sleep you’ve been having and make sure you're getting enough, our sleep tracker feature in the MWU App is perfect to stay accountable.
We recommend keeping your average sleep hours around 7-8 for a healthy and happy body and brain.
The bottom line is; your quality sleep is essential to a successful fat loss journey, and is just as important as your training and nutrition.