Extreme fat loss — just by sleeping enough?
I’ll sleep when I’m dead! I use this embarrassing line myself as I blast through the rat-race, living on coffee and thriving on stress. I wake up early and go to bed late. Getting a good night’s sleep is just something that lazy people do. You snooze, you lose.
I wonder how many of us are chronically sleep-deprived. More importantly, what does it have to do with high levels of body fat?
I once had a client who was an extremely energetic, top-level executive who developed an interesting edge on his competitors. He would tell everyone that he was away on business, get a hotel room on the sly, shut off the phone and sleep. He would lie to everyone about his whereabouts. He swore that he was so much more productive and effective when he got enough sleep. He pulled this off for decades until he had to admit his affair with sleep.
Losing too much sleep can cause hallucinations, psychosis and long-term memory impairment. Some studies have linked sleep deprivation to chronic conditions including hypertension, diabetes and bipolar disorder.
Wow, you mean all the crazies just need a nap? All parents know that their kids need a nap when they start to see the downward spiral of behavior. When you call out a child for being tired it can be the biggest insult that creates a tidal wave of denial, as if being tired is a major violation. I’d send poorly behaved employees home if I thought that they would actually take a nap and not just check their Facebook page and shop online till 2 a.m.
Militaries throughout history have used sleep-deprivation as a weapon. Sleep deprivation is a politically correct way to torture. It leaves no physical marks, but will backfire after a couple of days due to lack of brain function.
Sleep loss can cause short- and long-term psychological damage because sleep regulates the brain’s flow of epinephrine, dopamine and serotonin, chemicals closely associated with mood and behavior.
Mood and sleep use the same neurotransmitters, which makes it very hard to tell if someone has sleep loss or depression. When these neurotransmitters are disrupted by sleep loss, the chemical changes in the brain can also result in manic feelings and behavior similar to bipolar disorder.
We try to make up for lost sleep, but build up a “sleep debt” that is never repaid. Some call this consequence of chronic sleep debt “social jetlag,” which is a chronic slowing of concentration and hampering of bodily systems.
I know what you’re thinking: “That’s great, but what about fat loss?”
Everything I am telling you about here is directly related to fat loss. How can your body settle into a ketonic phase (burning stored fat for energy) during a good night’s sleep if you are not getting one? If you are not recovering, how can you train again effectively? This causes stress and over-inflammation, so all your energy goes to fueling that instead of recovering. If your body is producing so much cortisol from the stress of not sleeping, how can you lose fat? Too much cortisol production from stress will often make you lethargic, moody and fatter. If every single system is out of balance due to sleep deprivation, how can you lose fat?
So why do we do it? Sleeplessness is promoted and often glorified, making it seem to be just a normal part of life. The endless entertainments, electronic devices and incessant social media insanity all contribute to the real zombie-apocalypse going on right now. We mock cultures that don’t run themselves into the ground trying to afford a bigger TV.
If you could keep me in a comatose state long enough, you’d have a much better chance of taking my wallet. Why do you think that infomercials are on during the wee hours of the night? Honestly, would Shawn T. have convinced you to buy ‘Hip-Hop Abs’ if you had had proper sleep?
*Disclaimer: The author realizes that you would have been better off taking a nap than reading this, but you may have not realized how tired you actually were. If I would have just started by telling you to take a nap, you would have emphatically denied your sleepiness.
Steve Wells is a personal trainer and co-owner of Midland Fitness. His column appears on Tuesdays.
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