April 01, 2024 5 min read

With spring & summer inching closer & closer ... this is the time where almost all of us start to make a plan for how we're going to cut a little body fat, so we can look our best come pool season.

Of course (like most of us already know), your diet & exercise are going to be the main drivers of any fitness result.

But, there's one huge factor that almost everyone overlooks when it comes to seeing the best weight loss success ... and that's your SLEEP.

Without getting adequate sleep, you're going to have a pretty hard time seeing consistent fat loss, or really any fitness success ... that's how important sleep & recovery are to your results.

So today, we're going to cover WHY sleep is so important for fat loss ... and how you can improve your sleep quality & see the best possible results.

The Relationship Between Sleep & Weight Loss

Sleep, stress management, recovery ... they're all related & often times discussed together.

Sleep is king of all of the above, though. Because when you sleep well, your body recovers better, regulates your stress levels better ... and ultimately helps you look & feel your best.

I mean who wants to workout, eat right, move around, go to work ... or really do anything when you're low on sleep? It affects nearly every aspect of your day-to-day life.

But how does it specifically affect your ability to lose body fat?

Well ... most people are making a big mistake here. Because by sleeping less (which most people are doing nowadays), you're literally telling your body to eat more.

The opposite is true as well ... sleep more, and you're most likely going to eat less.

Yep ... you read that right.

Less sleep = more eating.

More sleep = less eating

And you're probably aware that if you're overeating consistently ... you won't lose weight.

From a scientific standpoint, this actually occurs because of different changes to your "hunger hormones" ... known as leptin & ghrelin.

If you're averaging less than 6 hours of sleep per night ... studies show that you're probably consuming, on average, an extra 250+ calories per day. (1)

This occurs because the human body is simply hungrier when it's low on sleep, due to those hormone imbalances. This means you're also under-recovered & overly stressed (whether you feel like it or not).

When you're lacking energy & low on sleep, your body is going to want extra fuel to feel better ... so it's going to signal to your brain that it needs more food (because you didn't allow your body to recover & re-energize with more sleep).

And in most cases, because you're tired & not feeling your best ... you'll tend to grab some food options that are more dense in calories, and probably not the best choices for your fitness goal.

Don't forget that when stress levels are higher, the same thing tends to occur. So, when you're lacking sleep, stress levels rise ... and so does your hunger. This is where "stress fat" tends to come from ... lack of sleep & poor stress management.

These studies also showed that by adding just 1 extra hour of sleep per night ... you'll consume on average 160+ less calories per day.

That doesn't sound like much, but over a full week's time ... you're looking at possibly cutting down over 1,000 extra calories.

The best part, this can be done without changing anything in regards to your diet or exercise ... you just have to sleep a little more.

Guess what else happens when you sleep less? You'll move less. Even if you don't feel like you are ... your body will compensate for the lack of sleep by lowering your everyday movement (this even includes things like slowing down the amount of times you blink to conserve energy!). 

This means you won't be expending as many calories through daily movement as you typically would be.

Pair that with the fact that you'll probably be eating a little bit more too ... not a great formula for success.

All of these factors are particularly important to pay attention to if you're working to lose weight ... and not seeing the results you want. Especially if you feel like your diet & exercise are where they need to be.

How's your sleep?

Because that could be what's holding you back ... and you may not even know it.

How To Improve Your Sleep Quality

We very much understand that getting more sleep is much easier said than done.

So, we're going to leave you with some tips that can instantly help make a difference in your sleep quality:

1) Limit Screen Time - The bright lights from screens (TV's, phones, tablets, computers, etc.) ... all send specific signals to your body. You'll want to do your best to limit your screen time AT LEAST one hour before bed.

This is because those "bright lights" mimic that of daytime ... those signals tell your body that it's not time to go to sleep. And once you finally put the screen down ... it maybe too late to get the deep sleep you need.

2) Adjust Bedroom Lighting - This ties in with #1, but you'll want to spend the time before sleep in a dimly lit room. Again, this is because brighter light can send signals to your body that disrupt the process of sleep & relaxation.

3) Adjust Bedroom Temperature - Most data shows that you'll sleep better in a cooler room. Not only will you sleep better, you'll also tend to fall asleep faster too. A room at anywhere from 60-68 degrees seems to be the sweet-spot for improving your sleep quality.

4) Use White Noise - Sleeping in dead silence actually has shown to not be ideal for the best quality sleep. Some type of white noise machine, rain sound, fan, etc. can drastically improve your sleep (especially when it comes to staying asleep). Give this is a try if you're someone who's constantly waking up a night.

5) Proper Supplementation - Maybe some of the most helpful products on the market ... given how important it is to get quality sleep if you want to see the best fitness results.

There's full spectrum sleep & recovery products that contain multiple ingredients to help you fall asleep faster ... and stay asleep longer.

These products also help improve sleep quality ... meaning sometimes, you can get great quality sleep without necessarily sleeping the recommended amount of hours.

There's also signal ingredient products like Magnesium, GABA, Kava Kava, Valerian Root, Melatonin, and much more. All of which can help with relaxation, stress management, and sleep quality.

Again, we know getting better sleep can be difficult ... no matter what tips and tricks you have. So, if you need some extra help with this, or help with ANYTHING health & fitness related ... just stop into your nearest S2 location! 

Our Certified Personal Trainers & Sports Nutrition Specialists will be more than happy to help make sure you're set up for success.

*This article was written by Andrew Lynn, who has a Bachelor's of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics. He is also a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist.

1. Zhu B, Shi C, Park CG, Zhao X, Reutrakul S. Effects of sleep restriction on metabolism-related parameters in healthy adults: A comprehensive review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Sleep Med Rev. 2019 Jun;45:18-30. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2019.02.002. Epub 2019 Feb 10. PMID: 30870662.