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How Lack of Sleep Can Trip Up Your Fitness Goals

Less Sleep, more Body Fat

You might have guessed it already. There seems to be an inverted relationship of sleep and body fat. The less you sleep the higher the body fat seems to be. I know this is an unpopular notion in a society that embraces either long hours of work,or long hours of party or TV.
Well, get with the program. Long hours of any kind are detrimental to your health it seems.
If you think, oh well, I sleep 8-9 hours a day. I am safe, then you are out of luck as well. It seems like both, chronically shortened (5-6 hours/night) or extended (8-9 hours) hours of sleep are associated with insulin resistance and diabetes. In addition cognitive functions as well as physical performance are reduced.

Just one night with only 4 hours of sleep also increases your insulin resistance.

What to do about it

Originally I started writing out all the things that lack of sleep affects in a negative way (I started to get tired though, lol) and decided not to do it again, since I have written a similar article before and a great article can be found here (Examine.com on Importance of Sleep).

There is really no need to repeat myself here. Instead I want to provide you with a couple of solutions that might be able to get your sleep back under control.

Your Sleep Checklist:

  • Allowing about 7.5-8.5 hours. This is a no-brainer. If you don’t get your butt to bed you won’t sleep. Sleep in front of the fool’s lantern (also known as TV) does not count.
  • Dim the lights, download a bluelight filter for your tablet, phone, and computer or one of these ultra-sexy blue-light filtering glasses. Blue light emissions from said devices can reduce melatonin production make your body believe that it is still bright outside.

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    Meet the New Sexy

  • Avoid light pollution in your bedroom. The blue light emitting charger cables, night-lights, etc.: cover them up or get rid of them.
  • Try to handle stressful situations, important matters in the beginning or earlier in the day to reduce stress levels at night.
  • Similarly if you are just pre-occupied and have trouble going asleep, write down a list of things that you want to get done the next day. This can help you get it off your mind.
  • Recommended to me by an acupuncturist (interestingly enough) was a warm foot bath for about 10-20 min. It also seems to have a tendency to calm down the nerves.
  • Be careful with caffeine. 90 % of people drink coffee or caffeinated beverages in the afternoon. 68% later than 4 pm. Especially if you are a slow caffeine metabolizer it is time to limit your intake to earlier in the day. Newer research (small study only) showed that on average there was a delay in melatonin production (helps with sleep timing).
  • Take some magnesium in the form of citrate, magnesium malate, magnesium diglycinate, or magnesium gluconate (200-400 mcg/day), and  Melatonin can be taken as well with 500 mcg initially and 1g later.

Like with anything, consult with your physician and / or healthcare professional before taking anything.

Sleep is crucial. It is not optional, it is not a badge of honor if you stay late at work. As a matter of fact, if you work more than 55 hours a week your productivity level sinks down to about 45-50 hours/week. Basically you are wasting time.

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That does not really help you succeed

Professional athletes sleep 7-8 hours/day (at least if they have some sort of good sense) I am sure there is the one or the other overpaid sports-diva out there who thinks he/she does not need it, but someone who is truly a professional will make sure to provide the body with what it needs to be at peak performance at the next, race, game, etc.
On that note I promise myself that I will get in that nap this afternoon, since naps increase productivity. 🙂


Cajochen, C., Munch, M., Kobialka, S., Kräuchi, K., Steiner, R., Oelhafen, P., … & Wirz-Justice, A. (2005). High sensitivity of human melatonin, alertness, thermoregulation, and heart rate to short wavelength light. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 90(3), 1311-1316.

Doran, S. M., Van Dongen, H. P. A., & Dinges, D. F. (2001). Sustained attention performance during sleep deprivation: evidence of state instability.Archives italiennes de biologie, 139(3), 253-267.

Doran, S. M., Van Dongen, H. P. A., & Dinges, D. F. (2001). Sustained attention performance during sleep deprivation: evidence of state instability.Archives italiennes de biologie, 139(3), 253-267.


Kimberly, B., & James R, P. (2009). Amber lenses to block blue light and improve sleep: a randomized trial. Chronobiology international, 26(8), 1602-1612.

Knutson, K. L., Spiegel, K., Penev, P., & Van Cauter, E. (2007). The metabolic consequences of sleep deprivation. Sleep medicine reviews, 11(3), 163-178.

Pilcher, J. J., & Huffcutt, A. J. (1996). Effects of sleep deprivation on performance: a meta-analysis. Sleep: Journal of Sleep Research & Sleep Medicine.

Schmid, S. M., Hallschmid, M., JAUCH‐CHARA, K. A. M. I. L. A., Born, J. A. N., & Schultes, B. (2008). A single night of sleep deprivation increases ghrelin levels and feelings of hunger in normal‐weight healthy men. Journal of sleep research, 17(3), 331-334.

Williamson, A. M., & Feyer, A. M. (2000). Moderate sleep deprivation produces impairments in cognitive and motor performance equivalent to legally prescribed levels of alcohol intoxication. Occupational and environmental medicine, 57(10), 649-655.


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