Sleep & Body Composition
Written by Nichole DeHart

Many of you know how important sleep is. You can feel the effects that little sleep can have, like grogginess, lack of energy and poor reasoning abilities. Getting little or poor sleep can also contribute to a higher body composition and can put up a nasty fight with you when trying to lose weight. But do you know why?

Well, I turned to some research by Charles Poliquin to find out more about how sleep affects your body composition. If you haven’t heard of this guy, then immediately after reading this post, do a Google search of him and read about all the ways he has pioneered the health and fitness world.

Some studies that Poliquin reference show a direct correlation between sleep quantity and quality and weight loss. When a person is tired and exhausted, their hormones go crazy and get out of balance. A small hormonal shift in your body can have a significant impact of your ability to not only lose weight but to also hinder putting on muscle (a.k.a – #GAINZ).

Poor sleep also impacts the regulation of the hypothalamus. You want your hypothalamus to be as regulated as possible since it controls hunger, fatigue, sleep and the circadian rhythm. Poor sleep can alter the activity of the hypothalamus, which directly increases cortisol. Higher cortisol can increase appetite in some individuals, and can enhance fat storage. Sleep depervation will also alter the brain’s ability to use glucose, which effects glucose metabolism throughout the body, resulting also in fat gain. No bueno!

A study recently conducted on men revealed that just one night of short sleep drastically lowered their testosterone levels in the morning. Can you imagine what would happen to your testosterone levels if you habitualy lack quality sleep?

So far, we have a lack of sleep hindering the primary role of the hypothalamus, alters our glucose sensitivity and can lower testosterone – sounds like a recipe for disaster and immediate weight gain!

After reading this, you may realize that you are not getting enough sleep…AT ALL! I am fully aware of how busy each and every one of us can be, so here are a few tips to help get the biggest bang for your buck when going to bed!

Tip #1 – Commit to get a certain amount of sleep nightly. Try to stay on your sleep schedule on the weekends as well. You can’t make up your partying ways from the weekend by sleeping in one day…sadly, it just doesn’t work like that!

Tip #2 – Work with your “chronotype” or your natural tendency to be a morning person or an evening person. Your hormone regulation will be way more balanced if you honor your normal sleeping patterns.

Tip #3 – No blue light! In fact, keep all light out of your room. Go purchase some blackout curtains, cover up the blinking lights in your room and read an actual book instead of being on the computer.

Tip #4 -Meditate before bed. Try to get as calm of a mind as possible. Clearing your mind, paired with slow, deep breaths (try to get six breathes per minute), will help you get relaxed.

Tip #5 – Take some magnesium. I am a huge fan of Natural CALM (it is a magnesium supplement) and I take that before bed. Magnesium is vital for the function of GABA receptors, which is a calming neurotransmitter that the brain requires to switch “off.” Most people lack magnesium, so start supplementing with it today! See Coach Michele’s post, Top 7 Supplements for Athletes, for more information about supplement timing and what to look for in your supplements.

There are many other ways to help aid in a good night’s sleep but these are the tips that I have had the most success with. If you are looking to lose weight, then prioritize your sleep. You will be shocked by how much more viberance and energy you’ll have!

If you have other suggestions to getting enough sleep or improving the quality of your sleep, please post to comments! And look for more sleep tips next month when we focus on the National Fitness Holiday ‘Nocturnal November’ – that’s how important it is!



Dettoni, J., Marciano, F., et al. Cardiovascular Effects of {partial Sleep Deprivation in Healthy Volunteers. Journal of Applied Physiology. 2012. Published Ahead of Print.

Chaput, J., et al. Sleeping Habits Predict the Magnitude of fat Los in Adults Exposed to Moderate Calorie Restriction. Obesity Facts. 2012. 5(4), 561-566.




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May 27, 2019 11:29 am

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March 28, 2015 12:09 pm

Great tips for balancing your body and proper sleep. Main factors are enough sleep at night and proper nutrition control. Power nap of few minutes in daytime will also increase your efficiency.

November 3, 2014 11:49 am

Couldn’t agree more Tip#2 and Tip#4. I’m an early riser so I would always wake up and work out early, but by the time I was getting in bed at the end of the night I would have my eyes glued to my screen. I wake up just as early now, but get work done in the early am, and save my workout for night time. I’ll toss on a podcast on during my workout instead of hip-hop (find this a bit more relaxed), then I’ll meditate, undistracted for 5 minutes before I hit the hay. Noticed it helps me… Read more »

October 21, 2014 12:48 am

I started CrossFit almost 2 years ago to lose weight. As a Police Dispatcher being sedentary is an unfortunate part of the job, so I needed to do something about it. Working a rotating schedule; 7am-3pm and 3-11pm wasn’t bad. Weight came off. Felt great, was able to work out 5-6 days a week. Sometimes twice a day. I switched to steady midnights at the start of this year and what a drastic difference it was. I completely agree with this article, it is an absolute fact. I gained about 10lbs back, which I notice but isn’t really “noticeable” to… Read more »

John Davis
John Davis
October 21, 2014 8:16 pm
Reply to  Dan

Shift work here too. I work 4 nights, off 2 days, then 3 days shifts, off 1 day, then back to 3 nights. Quality sleep is something most take for granted. Only when I take vacation do I get a normal sleep pattern where I wake in the morning with everyone else and actually feel like my body was restored through the night.

October 21, 2014 10:39 pm
Reply to  John Davis

Thats a tough rotation. I can say, thankfully, steady “Mids” for us is 4 on 4 off, 4 on 4 off, 4 on 3 off… But the 4 nights I am working my days are shot and in the Winter if I see any daylight I’m lucky.