Ask the Celebrity Trainer: The No. 1 Reason Your Workout Isn't Working

Are you shooting yourself in the foot without even knowing it?

If we were to pinpoint one factor that is typically hindering people from becoming fit, lean, and healthy, it would undoubtedly be inadequate sleep. Many individuals underestimate the importance of getting sufficient quality sleep — between 7 to 9 hours each night. Sleep plays a crucial role in your overall health as it allows both your body and mind to recover and aids in regulating hormonal levels, especially these four essential hormones:

There are primarily two types of sleep: Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep and Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) sleep. Each of these can be broken down further into four sub-stages. An average sleep cycle comprises 75 percent NREM sleep and 25 percent REM sleep. Let’s delve deeper into these stages:

  • Wake Cycle: This span ranges from when you fall asleep until you wake up. Essentially, it's the total time you're awake when you should be sleeping. The time spent in the wake cycle contributes to your "disrupted sleep."
  • Light Sleep: Light sleep forms about 40 to 45 percent of an average person's sleep. It is also known as stage 2 sleep. This phase enhances motor function, concentration, and alertness. When you enjoy a "power nap," you are chiefly benefiting from stage 2 sleep.
  • Deep Sleep: Deep sleep occurs before REM sleep and is part of NREM sleep (stages 3 and 4). It is mainly responsible for mental and physical restoration and hence is categorized as "restorative sleep." During deep sleep, the body repairs tissues, builds bone and muscle, and strengthens the immune system. It is in this stage that growth hormone is released, promoting cell growth and regeneration.
  • REM Sleep: REM sleep usually follows deep sleep, approximately 90 minutes after falling asleep. REM sleep is essential for maintaining mood, mental health, and learning capabilities. It also aids in processing memory, enhancing creativity, and managing emotions and complex tasks.

For optimal sleep quality, it is vital to get sufficient amounts of both deep and REM sleep every night. Recent research underscores the importance of sleep as a critical aspect of effective weight loss (or "fat loss") programs, along with diet and exercise. A recent study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal observed that people who slept longer and had better sleep quality were more likely to lose weight while dieting. Moreover, the Canadian Obesity Network has included adequate sleep in its new set of obesity management tools for doctors. In conclusion, if you're aiming for a lean and fit body, ensure you're getting enough quality sleep.

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