Adequate sleep is crucial for a number of metabolic processes and is essential for optimal body function. Sleep not only helps with muscle development but it is also a factor in weight loss. This is due to sleep loss having an effect on the body’s level of cortisol, growth hormone and insulin. Cortisol is released by adrenal glands in response to stress (lack of sleep been one of the body’s stresses), this in turn causes an increase in insulin, which promotes fat storage. A lack of deep sleep, which is known for its restorative properties, is also linked with reduced levels of growth hormone. This hormone plays an important role in fat loss and muscle growth.
On the surface inadequate sleep has a number of negative effects, such as reduced maximal strength, decreased reaction time, poor heat regulation and the possibility of mood swings. For athletes or even those involved in mentally taxing tasks it is recommended that you have 8-10 hours sleep a night. To help in the quest for quality sleep avoid stimulants before bed, maintain regular sleep patterns, have dinner 3-4 hours prior to going to bed and if this fails give relaxation strategies a go i.e. meditation, baths etc.