By Colton Leadley
Colton Leadley grew up in Arizona and graduated from Arizona State with a degree in Exercise and Wellness. Colton works as a personal trainer and strength and conditioning coach. He is passionate about remedying the ongoing obesity epidemic in the United States and writes health and fitness articles to help motivate people to get healthy. He was recently accepted to Northern Arizona University’s graduate school where he will be completing a doctorate of physical therapy.
With the new year more and more people head to the gym and start trying to eat better with the goal of improving their body image and health. For many of us, the enthusiasm to pursue this goal is short-lived. Why do so many people fail their fitness goals? An often missed, yet crucial, piece of the puzzle is lack of adequate sleep. Sleep acts as your body’s reset button for a number of important functions and if you don’t get enough sleep, there are physiological and psychological consequences.
Physiology is basically everything going on “under-the-hood” of your body; the vital inner workings of how it functions as a system. This article will focus on sleep physiology, specifically two hormones that deal with food cravings and how sleep affects them.
Hormones are chemical messengers in the body that kick start processes such as hunger and satiation. Ghrelin and Leptin are the most significant hormones that deal with this specific process so let’s get a better look at what they actually do. When ghrelin is released into the body it causes us to feel hungry and desire food. The more of it that gets released the hungrier we feel. Leptin is the exact opposite – it causes us to feel full. If you think that as a result, we would generally want less ghrelin more leptin to prevent us from overeating, you’re right. Sleep deprivation has actually been shown to cause the exact opposite – ghrelin is INCREASED and leptin is DECREASED, wreaking havoc on attempts to eat healthier. After a rough night of sleep the last thing anyone wants to do is eat a salad. More likely you’ll will be heading for the greasy burger with fries and a milkshake to curb your hunger.
There are also psychological effects of sleep deprivation. The main one is motivation. Getting to the gym adds another thing to your already lengthy to-do list and it takes motivation to get through all of those tasks. When you’re sleep deprived you lack motivation and it is easy to neglect certain things. Generally, your health and well-being are the first on the chopping block and another reason for failure to accomplish fitness goals. We all deserve to be healthy and happy but being healthy and happy does not come easily. It requires work, and work requires motivation, and motivation requires a good night’s rest.
Accomplishing your fitness goals starts the night before you go to the gym. A good night’s sleep will help ensure ghrelin and leptin levels are balanced, giving you the motivation to succeed. A healthy lifestyle is a lifelong pursuit with peaks and valleys. To have more peaks than valleys, make sure you’re getting the rest you need.