Sleep is one of our 4 key pillars of health here at RCA Fitness and this article is going to help you understand just why we spend so much time focusing on sleep with our clients.

So why is sleep so important when it comes to good health and losing unwanted pounds?

First of all, sleep helps our body recover from training and it helps our body rebuild muscle tissue broken down during our training sessions. This is vitally important as the more muscle tissue we carry the higher our resting metabolism will be, even if this is marginal every 1% counts. Also, sleep helps us maximise our performance when training and that means more effort in more calories out.

A lack of sleep can lead to poorer decision-making. Think about it when you’re tired you can hardly be bothered to make a meal from scratch, so what do you do? Slob on the sofa and choose the quick and easy option. “Takeaway please!”. Usually, with the takeaway not being good quality food it leaves us feeling even more lethargic and tired than before we ate it. It’s also usually 4x the calories of a home-cooked dish.

It also affects our ability to handle stress and guess what, if you can’t cope with stress and things mount up, what is 99% of the UK population coping strategy? You guessed it…food! We comfort eat. If only people approached their comfort eating with more curiosity and then when the craving occurred to eat comfort food they took a moment to recognise their thoughts, feelings, and emotions at that time. They may well realise that the cue to that craving was stress and that might have been sparked because they were tired due to a lack of sleep and the response they had was food because it gave them a temporary reward giving them a momentary feel-good factor.

Another reason is a lack of sleep leads to the body releasing less leptin which is a hunger hormone that signals to the brain when we are full. In return, it produces more ghrelin which is also a hunger hormone but this hormone signals to the brain “I’m hungry feed me” so if you’ve ever wondered why you’re hungrier when you’ve had a lack of sleep this may be a lightbulb moment. A lack of sleep leads to an increase in appetite and cravings.

Finally, way too many of us rely on caffeine. Now, before I start let’s get one thing straight – caffeine does not give you energy, it is a stimulant that helps your body feel more alert. Something else you should know is it has half a life of about 5 hours so, with the average americano containing 95mg caffeine, it means 5 hours after drinking it you would still have 47.5mg in your system. This can lead to poor sleep quality if you drink caffeinated drinks throughout the day. Even if you think you sleep well chances are your body is not resting. Our advice is to drink no more than 2 coffees per day and none past 2 pm.

The average adult in the UK sleeps between 5.5 & 6.5 hours a night. It’s no wonder there are so many adults struggling with their weight.

Nearly every client we work with ends up improving their sleep whilst working with us either the duration, the quality of sleep, or both.