SS 199 – The Effect of Sleep on Body Composition
Episode 199 Show Notes
How do you sleep? Today, Grant and Heavey talk about the impact of sleep on body composition. If you’re trying to lose fat and build muscle, sleep is something you can’t take lightly. Find out the different factors that can impair sleep as well as some things you can do to help you sleep better.
[05:00] Are You Fond of Taking Aspirin?
A randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of over 20,000 people across the United States and Australia. One group was given 81-mg low-dose aspirin while the other half was given a placebo. They were observed for over five years and the researchers found out that there was no any difference as to their disability-free survival. However, there was a number of downsides to taking aspirin primarily involving gastrointestinal and intracranial bleeding.
Another study showed a higher all-cause mortality among the previously healthy adults who took aspirin. They attributed this to cancer-related deaths, not heart-related deaths. In other words, the aspirin may have reduced the number of heart-related events, but it ended up increasing the overall number of deaths.
Grant concludes that at best, Aspirin is a waste of money and at worst, you could really be damaging yourself. Heavey, on the other hand, will take a look at this in the future, in terms of research studies. For now, bring this up to your doctor as this is something doctors should be aware of.
[09:37] The Impact of Sleep on Your Health
Sleep impacts a lot of things like focus, inflammation, insulin signaling, testosterone, heart health, and more. And of course, sleep affects body composition. Unshockingly, sleep is one of our pillars of health.
Heavey presents these three different studies on sleep. The first one is observational, you can’t infer causation from this – no cause and effect. The study showed a strong association between obesity and hours of sleep per night. An incidence of obesity in nearly 40% in men that sleep under 6 hours per night and only about 25% of those that get 8 hours of sleep per night.
Another study shows that short-term sleep deprivation can lead to an increase of up to 20% in daily caloric intake. If you’re trying to lose fat and constantly depriving yourself of sleep, it could affect your appetite and impair your ability to eat at a lower rate and lose fat.
The third study shows that over a period of 14 days, a group of overweight adults was put on a severe caloric restriction. They lost 6.5 pounds over 14 days. Note that they’re not only losing all fat, but also lean mass and water. The researchers broke this group into two subgroups. The first one lost 3.1 pounds of fat, while the other group only lost 1.3 pounds of fat and had substantially higher hunger.
The difference? The group that lost more fat and kept more muscle got 8.5 hours of sleep per night. The other group got 5.5 hours of sleep per night. Therefore, Heavey says you can do yourself a favor in losing fat by going to bed early. Sometimes people may feel that going to bed early is in a way, lazy. However, they should probably use this study as a reason to give themselves permission to sleep more.
[14:00] Light Impairs Sleep
Grant gets 8-10 hours of sleep a night but he’s always tired. He suspects the reason for this is that he doesn’t sleep well. Heavey is going to discuss several things here that will impact sleep and things that can benefit sleep quality.
First, a big piece of impairing sleep is light. Exposure to the blue part of the light spectrum disrupts melatonin production. Using your computer or phone right before bed can disrupt your melatonin and this makes it more difficult for you to fall and stay asleep.
A way to mitigate this by turning on Apple’s Night Shift feature, which reduces blue light. However, it’s best to really at least take your devices out for a while. See if this has any effect on you since this could have an effect on your brain activity.
[17:06] Ways to Wind Yourself Down to Sleep
Grant recalls instances where he was not able to sleep and unable to relax. He would turn on the TV and watch something brainless to zone out. Heavey explains this as replacing something that’s keeping your mind active into something comforting. This might be better than looking at Facebook, but this doesn’t mean you won’t still be affected by it. Try to replace that with something different. One way is by having a nighttime routine where you do the same things an hour or so before you go to bed. This could be things like winding down to take a shower or a book.
[19:13] Do Eye Masks Help?
Not only does blue light negatively affect your sleep, but ambient light can also impair your sleep as well. Having your room as dark as possible is key. If this is hard to do, you can cover your room with blackout curtains or blinds. Otherwise, use an eye mask as long as this doesn’t bug you or make it tougher for you to sleep. That said, the blue light and ambient light are well-known to impair sleep and that’s something that people should nip it in the bud if they can.
[20:30] Get Rid of Noise
Another thing that can disrupt sleep is noise. What about white noise? Well, Heavey says that small, quiet repetitive noises aren’t nearly the problem that louder and more acute noises are. In fact, the white noise can be a benefit to you if they can mask out surrounding noises.
For instance, if you live in a city where traffic noise is something you can’t prevent, then you can probably sleep with earplugs or if you prefer have some background white noise.
[21:40] A Cool Room Makes You Sleep Better and Faster
If you try to go to bed in a warm room, it’s going to be much more difficult for you to fall asleep. It’s going to make you sleep faster if your bedroom is cooler, and you get to deeper stages of sleep sooner. If you find it too cold, then snuggle with your partner.
[23:10] Effect of Caffeine on Sleep
Even if you feel like caffeine doesn’t affect your sleep at all, you’re probably still impairing the quality of your sleep. Try to avoid caffeine for a minimum of six hours before bedtime. You have to understand though that the rate of caffeine metabolism varies dramatically from person to person. In fact, Heavey would ask some of his clients to eliminate caffeine even after lunch and just keep it in the morning.
[24:10] Does Booze Make You Sleep Better? (Grant Might Not Like This)
You can drink heavily and maybe knockout but the quality of sleep will be terrible. If you want to truly sleep well, eliminate alcohol before bed. Heavey can attest to this in that while he sleeps well 6 nights out of the week, there’s one night he doesn’t sleep well. And that’s whenever he drinks because (he’s doing the podcast with Grant). Not terrible though, but not good.
[26:30] Factors that Can Benefit Sleep: Exercise
Exercise or physical activity during the day is strongly associated with better sleep. If you’re active, you’ll sleep better. The only caveat for exercising close to bedtime is that it can impair sleep. Interestingly, they’ve shown that even exercising at night is better than not exercising at all in term of the quality of sleep.
[27:55] Factors that Can Benefit Sleep: Maintain a Schedule
Another factor is maintaining a schedule, which Heavey is guilty of. He goes to bed at 9 every night and reads for an hour before he goes to sleep. So the last three hours or so before he goes to bed is almost fixed everyday. And he suspects this is the reason he doesn’t get to sleep well on nights he’s talking to Grant as he’s getting out of his schedule. The more you can maintain a schedule and have those habits where you have a shutdown routine can help get your head in the right place for sleep.
[29:00] Factors that Can Benefit Sleep: Magnesium Supplementation
Lastly, magnesium supplementation can help improve sleep. Heavey notices that he’s able to feel more rested whenever he supplements with magnesium before bed. He also had clients who experienced dramatic changes in their sleep from magnesium supplementation like crazy dreams. Moreover, studies show that individuals with magnesium deficiencies can have enhanced sleep from magnesium supplementation. This didn’t work for Grant though because of gastrointestinal issues. In fact, magnesium is something used in hospitals to help induce pooping.
But if you want to experiment with this to test the quality of your sleep, you can do so but just dial back the dosing and spread it out into small, more frequent doses. Then see if this can improve your sleep. Also, episode 180 features the Som Sleep drink that can help improve sleep.
All this being said, magnesium is one of the best researched and more proven approaches to improving sleep through supplementation.
[32:20] Sleep is Critical to Body Comp
Ultimately, if you want to build muscle and lose fat, you have to prioritize sleep – not to mention the other health and cognitive benefits you get from sleep.
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