A picture of a bed

Sleep Loss, the silent killer of gains

Maybe the title is a little misleading…..because sleep loss isn’t really the killer of gains, but rather the killer of weight loss.

Are you person who is so torn up from anxiety that you don’t get 7 or more hours of sleep? Maybe you just work until well after the sun goes down and wake up to get a head start on your day.  Whatever the case, more and more studies are coming out exposing sleep loss as a silent killer of metabolism.

The Studies

TheLancet.com – The metabolic burden of sleep loss: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/landia/article/PIIS2213-8587(14)70012-9/fulltext?version=printerFriendly

PMC – Role of Sleep and Sleep Loss in Hormonal Release and Metabolism: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3065172/

The Science

Essentially chronic sleep “partial sleep loss” can increase the risk of obesity and weight gain. Studies were conducted on adults and children in a lab which indicated that “metabolic and endocrine alternations, including decreased glucose tolerance, decreased insulin sensitivity, increased evening concentrations of cortisol, increased of ghrelin, decreased levels of leptin and increased hunger and appetite” all result of sleep loss.

What a mouth full of harmful stuff. Let’s simplify this a bit:

Cortisol: A catabolic hormone that breaks down muscle tissue.  Often associated with Stress. Increases in this are usually bad for bodybuilders

Ghrelin: One of the hormones secreted by the stomach that makes us hungry.  Increases in this could lead to overeating by breaking our contest-prep willpower.

Glucose Tolerance: It’s where the whole “Stop eating carbs” after 6/7pm thing came from.

Leptin: Synthesized by adipose tissue. Primary function is to regulate hunger, food intake, and energy expenditure.  Decreased Liptin = Increased food cravings. (When a “If it fits your macro’s” athlete does a refeed, they are increasing their Liptin).

A fractured clock.

Personal Experience:

I’m pretty awesome at sleeping.  I regularly get 8 hours of sleep, and it’s not because my job is easy.  I show up for a very demanding job at 8 AM, workout during my lunch break, leave work around 6 PM, commute to Starbucks or my house so that I can continue to study or write articles for Zelsh.  That puts me at an 8 o’clock “destress” period which I usually fill with cooking and any miscellaneous personal stuff I need to get done. I hop into bed at 11 and pass out promptly until 7:20 the following morning.

This isn’t the toughest schedule on earth as I’m sure there are other bodybuilders who have worse, but if you’re lazy playing video games/watching TV/etc. you have no excuse.  If you’re already building a mental block to this article because you just “can’t sleep” then you need to go google search some good sleeping habits and practice them.  Don’t whine because you have trouble, your body WANTS to sleep.  It’s merely your mind keeping it up (if you have a sleeping disorder…I apologize) so learn to tell it to shut up.

If you’re not getting “good sleep” as in your a light sleeper, wake up a lot, or just feel groggy…try downloading a sleep app for your phone. It’s immensely helpful to analyze your sleep and provides useful data that you can use to target problem areas.


If you want to lose some weight during your contest prep or just in general EAT MORE and maintain your current weight, I’d recommend getting over 7 hours of sleep.  Good night and don’t let the metabolism monsters bite. Hardy hare






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