How sleep affects your body composition
The world of today is very fast-paced. Almost all individuals find themselves pressed for time. While technology has brought a lot of convenience into this world, it has also made it impossible to let go of our responsibilities and work. After all, even when you are at home, you are connected to your work through technology.
At such times, something as simple as getting enough sleep is now becoming a challenge. What a lot of people don’t realize is that this can lead to a lot of problems. For instance, insufficient sleep can hamper muscle development/growth and body composition.
What is body composition?
The word body composition is used by professionals in medicine, fitness, and health as it is an important health indicator. Body composition is measured to assess your health and fitness level as it describes what your body is made of. This includes fat, protein, minerals and body water. It is recommended that you have a good understanding of your own body composition so you can effectively improve your wellbeing.
The recommended amount of sleep
People get by the day with as little as four hours of sleep. Just because an individual can survive a day with minimal rest doesn’t mean this is the amount needed by the brain and the body. Instead, a human body must be provided with a recommended amount of sleep to be able to function correctly.
Studies show that most adults get less than seven hours of sleep every night. While people might think this is a sufficient amount, sleeping less than seven hours a day can lead to chronic sleep deprivation!
A healthy adult requires at least seven to nine hours of daily sleep. The value may vary from person to person depending on their health and age. For instance, children need more sleep than adults. And as people grow older, the recommended hours may start to decline. Even when they do, you need at least seven hours of sleep. This can be distributed between daytime and nighttime sleeping.
Why is it necessary to sleep for the recommended duration?
It is necessary to get the recommended sleep as the quality and quantity of sleep affect your body composition, muscle development, and growth as well as mental health. Whether it be attaining emotional stability, ensuring heart health or controlling weight, all of it is indirectly linked to the sleep you are getting. If you care about your health and you’re wanting to alter your body composition, ignoring your body’s natural need for sleep could be seriously limiting your progress.
When you are wanting to change your body composition it is not just an individual goal, it is actual 2 goals. Increasing your Lean Body Mass and reducing your Fat Mass are both positive changes in body composition, and both are affected by sleep. And regardless of which goal you work on to improve your body composition, getting a healthy amount of sleep is not recommend – it is required.
When you are sleeping, the body shuts off, but the brain stays alert. In fact, the mind is most active during this time. It recollects memories, oversees biological maintenance and prepares you for the upcoming day. Sleeping a healthy amount is linked with less appetite, which helps in regulating weight. It also helps in building lean muscle mass by encouraging muscle development and growth in the body.
The stages of sleep
Many people consider sleep to be a prolonged and consistent activity whereby you experience the same sensations the entire night. This is not true. Instead, sleep is divided into two stages, NREM and REM sleep.
The NREM stage
This is the initial stage of sleep. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t doze off to deep slumber from the get-go. You go through different stages and intensities of sleep. The NREM stage is further divided into the following three stages:
- Stage 1: When a person initially falls asleep, for the 5-10 percent of the time, one remains semi-conscious. Here, the person is midway between sleep and wakefulness and is said to be experiencing light sleep. The brain waves move from alpha to theta waves.
- Stage 2: This constitutes 55 percent of your total sleep. Here, the brain waves slow down, and one is fully asleep.
- Stage 3: The deepest of slumber occurs during this stage that merely makes up 15 to 25 percent of your total sleep cycle. Here, the brain activity is the slowest and the body is entirely at rest. This is the stage that has the most therapeutic benefits and hence is the most crucial for people’s mental and physical health.
The REM Stage
It is often easy to spot people rapidly moving their eyes when they are sleeping. This is actually a stage of the sleep known as REM or Rapid Eye Movement. This is the state when dreams occur. Here, the brain becomes highly active yet the body is fully paralyzed.
It takes almost 90 minutes for a person to pass from one stage to another. Someone who sleeps at least seven hours a day can experience this cycle four times.
How does sleep affect muscle development/growth?
Sleep affects body composition because of its effect on catabolic and anabolic hormones in the body. One of the growth hormones that encourage muscle growth is called GH. Seventy percent of this hormone is secreted during the third stage of NREM sleep. Also, testosterone is also affected by sleep. Therefore, the extent of your muscle development is dependent on your quality of sleep.
Additionally, sleep is also correlated with losing fat. Not getting enough sleep leads to problems in regulating appetite because the hormone Ghrelin increases in the body while the secretion of leptin is reduced. Moreover, sleeping less leads to lethargy which renders a person incapable of being active. This, in turn, makes it hard to burn calories, further leading to weight gain.
Tips for getting the right amount of sleep
One thing is for certain; people need the right amount of sleep to alter their body composition for the better. To do so, here are some tips that you might want to follow:
- Avoid having a blue light in your bedroom since it signals the brain to stay alert.
- Have a regular sleeping schedule that aligns with the biological circadian rhythm.
- Exercise regularly to combat symptoms associated with sleep disorders.
- Maintain a healthy diet and avoid eating heavy meals close to bedtime.
- Make sure your room is quiet, calm and dark. Only reserve your room for sleeping so that your brain automatically knows that it is time to sleep when you enter your bedroom.
- Have a relaxing bedtime routine which may take a bath or reading in dim light and meditating.
Provide your body with the recommended amount of sleep. Watch the difference it makes to your body composition and lifestyle.