Now that the title has your attention, let’s see what madness this article is spouting.

As fitness fanatics and enthusiasts, we’re always clawing at new ways to add that extra edge to our physical goals; be it in appearance, performance, or both. However, when it comes to this grossly overlooked factor, we pay little mind to how this magical strategy can completely turn the tide in our struggle to a fitter and healthier body.

I’m talking about sleep!!!

We’ve all heard the old wife’s tales and commonly spouted adages of how important getting that 7 - 9 hours of sleep is so important. But is sleep really as important as it’s made out to be?

Poor quality sleep is linked to everything, from increased stress levels to decreased immune function, to weight gain or muscle loss and reduced sport or cognitive brain performance.

What? Weight gain and muscle loss???

We’re generally so pedantic and cognitive of our food consumption, supplement intake and exercise performance since these are the things most commonly highlighted by magazines, the internet and fitness gurus. Yet the topic of sleep gets a quiet whisper, at best, in the list of important things we need to align in order to get the body of our dreams and the fitness performance we so wantingly desire.

So let me say this in a way that will surely make you catch a wake-up (or catch some more “zzz’s” as it were):

“ONE, just ONE, bad night’s sleep can increase insulin resistance (which leads to disease and fat storage)! It also makes you eat and crave bad food, skip gym sessions or not perform at your best, both cognitively (brain) and physically (in the gym).”

What does the research have to say about how a lack of sleep can affect the progress of our fitness success? Let’s have a look.

1. An increase in fatigue: Of course we would be more fatigued if we didn’t get the necessary amount of sleep. However, this consequence of sleep deprivation greatly affects our caloric expenditure (significantly decreasing it) and massively hampers our physical performance (as well as significantly reducing our desire to exercise at all). Can’t get better or grow if we’re not giving our all

2. Increase in Ghrelin Levels and decrease in Leptin levels: Ghrelin is well known as the hunger hormone. Ghrelin increases in the body lead to increases in appetite, making you eat more. An overall increase so far as 28% in these levels have been recorded as a result of poor sleep. Leptin is the hormone opposite to ghrelin. Leptin signals the brain that you are full and to stop eating. When this decreases, you continue to eat, even if you aren’t hungry. Not only have studies shown a decrease of up to 20% in leptin levels, but some have even shown that your desire to eat calorie-dense, high carbohydrate and fat meals increases. Bad news for our overall body composition.

3. Reduced immune function and lower testosterone levels: A single night of less than optimal or inadequate sleep can radically reduce your immune function. In other words, you may possibly get sick more often and make it extraordinarily difficult for your body to recover from training, which is already a risky business for those dieting down. (5) As for testosterone levels, a recorded study has shown that low testosterone is presently a common health issue amongst men. This has been inextricably linked to poor sleep. Low test levels mean more fat and less muscle. Need I say more?

Solutions? How to better this?

We have a few steps you can take to dramatically improve your sleeping patterns and better your overall sleeping habits on a continual basis.

Stop the stims:

Not entirely, obviously, but try cutting off your stimulants and stimulant intake after mid-afternoon. This doesn’t just include pre-workouts (if you train in the evenings, a stim-free pre-workout would be an advisable route), but coffee too

No more blue light:

At least an hour before hitting the hay, eliminate all exposure to blue light by shutting off laptops, phones, tablets, and TVs. Be aware that blue light exposure tricks your brain into thinking that it is day time. If you really can’t go without technology before bed, try downloading Flux onto your laptop and devices and, wear orange glasses. These block the blue light on your devices.

Meal timing actually helps:

It’s been observed that a large meal eaten before bed can alter the circadian rhythm and make it harder to sleep. Conversely, going to bed with a strong hunger can also inhibit efficient and adequate sleep. Try eating a light meal 90 minutes before bed. It’s a good middle ground.

Magnesium, melatonin, and GABA:

These are all supplements that are really beneficial when it comes to improving sleep. Added to your arsenal in their recommended doses (starting with box recommendations will do), watch how your sleep improves by leaps and bounds.

So when you’re calculating your calories, organizing your meal plans, drawing up your training programs and sorting out your supplements, be sure to add the necessary steps to prepare a good night’s sleep and watch all your body and fitness goals kick it into high gear.



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NOW Foods Magnesium Citrate

NOW Foods Magnesium is a mineral that is critical for energy production and metabolism, muscle contraction, nerve impulse transmission, and bone mineralization.


NOW Foods GABA

GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid) is a non-protein amino acid that functions as a neurotransmitter in the human brain. GABA is naturally produced in the body and its presence within the central nervous system may help promote relaxation and ease nervous tension.


NOW Foods Sleep

NOW Foods Sleep is a combination of ingredients formulated to help you ease your mind and relax your body so you can drift naturally off into a restful sleep.

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