Can You Offset The Health Effects Of Sleep Deprivation?
Chronic sleep deprivation can have negative impacts on your health, body composition, and performance in the gym. But is it possible to offset these negative effects with nutrition and lifestyle changes?
In this article you'll discover the harsh truth of sleep deprivation. And why it's more important to address the root cause, instead of searching for tips, tricks, and life hacks.
But it's not always easy to resolve issues of sleep deprivation. Sometimes it's part of life you have to deal with. Simply being told to "sleep more" or "sort it out" doesn't help anyone.
So this article details a few simple strategies to help make the best of a bad situation.
If you can't seem to stick to your diet and you're barely making it through your workouts, read on to get some much needed help with your sleep deprivation.
And if you'd prefer to listen to the audio version of "Can You Offset The Health Effects Of Sleep Deprivation?", click the play button below.
The Harsh Truth Of Sleep Deprivation
A consistent lack of sleep can have multiple effects on your health. And there are far-reaching consequences, beyond mood swings of a thirteen year old.
A few late nights and early mornings isn't going to kill you. And you can certainly continue to lose weight and build muscle. But prolonged sleep deprivation can make the process of physique transformation, harder than it needs to be.
Sleep Deprivation And Hunger
While sleep deprivation doesn't override energy balance, it can affect your ability to achieve a calorie deficit.
For example, a lack of sleep can exacerbate feelings of hunger. No doubt you've been in the situation where you would quite happily eat a scabby horse, the day after a night of zero sleep. This is due to increases in the hunger hormone, Ghrelin, and your intrinsic urge to eat.
So when you're trying to lose weight, being in a constant state of sleep deprivation can work against you.
But the negative effects don't stop there.
Sleep Deprivation And Muscle Loss
The likelihood of muscle loss increases when you combine a calorie deficit with sleep deprivation. A study comparing participants getting 8.5 vs 5.5 hours of sleep per night, showed significant differences in muscle loss.
Those getting 5.5 hours sleep lost an average of 60% more fat-free mass, despite losing the same amount of total body weight. The results also showed a decrease in Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR). Meaning that when sleep deprived, subjects were burning over 100 kcals less per day.
As you can see, sleep deprivation plays a critical role in fat loss and body composition. Although, it's worth remembering that the people involved in this study weren't lifting weights. Something we'll come on to later.
Sleep Deprivation And Strength
And what about performance in the gym? How is strength and your ability to build muscle affected by sleep deprivation?
Sadly, the news isn't good here, either.
A 2018 review of 17 studies on this topic showed a decrease in force output and strength for compound movements.
"Inadequate sleep impairs maximal muscle strength in compound movements when performed without specific interventions designed to increase motivation."
And when you add in feelings of tiredness and low mood, the evidence doesn't paint a pretty picture for sleep deprivation.
So what can you do about it?
Making The Best Of A Bad Situation
There's not much you can do to offset the negative effects of sleep deprivation, aside from getting more sleep. But that doesn't really help you, so here are a few things that might make a small difference.
Although, bear in mind that many of these ideas are hypothetical musings, rather than evidence-based theories.
Lifting weights could help minimise the muscle loss associated with sleep deprivation. Although, the study demonstrating this was performed on rats. So the direct applicability to humans needs to be treated with a degree of caution. However, it's a plausible idea.
Extrapolating this idea one step further, more muscle mass may offset sleep deprivation issues by improving metabolic flexibility. In theory, the more efficient your body is at switching to fat utilisation for fuel during periods of rest, the less muscle you're likely to burn.
High Protein Diet
Combining resistance training with a high protein diet helps preserve muscle in a calorie deficit. Therefore, make sure you don't abandon this approach during periods of sleep deprivation. Keep your protein intake in the 1.8-2.7g/kg range, consistently.
Optimising your protein intake by consuming slow release, casein protein before bed (c.0.6g/kg) may also help reduce muscle protein breakdown.
Being mindful of your food choices could help manage the increases in hunger and cravings associated with sleep deprivation. Opting for more filling whole foods, such as fruit, vegetables, lean meats, and dairy might prevent you dipping your hand in the cookie jar every 5 minutes.
Opting for high fibre and high protein snacks has also been shown to reduce appetite and increase fullness. So favour these foods and make wise choices.
Regular meal patterns might also help control the amount you eat. Although, this hasn't specifically been proven in situations of sleep deprivation. So this is, once again, a mere hypothesis.
Finally, when it comes to training favouring carbohydrates to fuel your workouts would help improve performance. And carb / calorie cycling might also provide a marginal benefit worth considering. A few extra calories on your training days, might help you train harder.
And if you're really struggling through your workouts, a blast of caffeine and/or training with a friend might give you a much-needed boost.
"Strategies to assist groups facing inadequate sleep to effectively perform resistance training may include supplementing their motivation by training in groups or ingesting caffeine." Knowles et al 2018.
"A total daily dose of 800 mg caffeine during successive overnight periods of wakefulness is an effective strategy to maintain cognitive function when optimal sleep periods during the day are not available." Kamimori et al 2015
The Bottom Line On The Health Effects Of Sleep Deprivation?
Sleep deprivation can have a significant impact on health, body composition, and your performance in the gym. Trying to offset a chronic lack of sleep with tips and tricks is like putting a sticking plaster on a broken arm. If you can, address the root cause of your sleep deprivation.
Sleep deprivation sucks.
Not only do you feel tired and cranky, your body composition could be affected too. Chronic sleep deprivation might affect your body's ability to burn fat at rest. Ultimately leading to the nightmare scenario of muscle loss.
There are things you can do to get you through the day. But addressing the reason for your sleep deprivation is of paramount importance.
And this might be difficult. For example, if you work unsociable hours or are a parent to young children, sleep deprivation comes with the territory. In these instances, do your best to maximise sleep wherever possible. It might not be ideal, but do what you can.
However, if your sleep deprivation is somewhat self-inflicted, do something about it. Stop putting rest and recovery on the back burner. Take it seriously. Especially, if you want to see significant improvements in your health and physique.
What are your thoughts on sleep deprivation? Has this article jolted you into taking your recover more seriously? What changes are you going to make to your lifestyle? Let me know in the comments below, or drop me a message on Instagram (@iron_paradise_fitness).
Sleep Deprivation Sorted. Here's The Next Step In Achieving Your Fitness Goals
Dealing with sleep deprivation is important for achieving your fitness goals. But what about the other pieces of the puzzle? Are you confident in managing all aspects of your training and nutrition? Can you keep yourself accountable to ensure you maintain consistency?
If you're unsure, I might have something for you.
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But for now, all I’ll say is, keep living the Lean Life. And I’ll see you soon.
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