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How Your Sleep is Sabotaging Your Workout Results five letters ever sounded so sweet.

...If you're anything like Coach Heather, it's the best part of the day {urm, night}!

Ironic how the best thing EVER is the first thing to be sacrificed in the midst of a busy schedule!

Admit it, you've had those nights, where you finally finished work at a decent hour and were 1,000% committed to face-planting into bed at 9:00 pm. But then something happened...I dunno...perhaps starting with an, "oh yeah! Forgot, I have that episode of 'This Is Us' saved to watch!" or "oooh, that wine bottle I opened this weekend is going to go bad... I should probably have a glass" and even, "no, I think I'll stay up and enjoy this moment of peace before I have to wake back up and do it all over again".

Feels so awesome in the moment...until we actually DO wake up in the morning looking like Uncle Fester. We dot on some concealer, push through the day in our zombie-like condition wth bad hair, and then possibly drag our butts to the gym. Hey! At least we got our workout in, right? Well... yes and no...

There's much to be proud of if you're consistently getting in your workouts, especially if this lifestyle is new to you! Seriously, GO ON (insert hi-five}! In fact, if you're just getting back into a routine or a fitness lifestyle is totally new to you, its completely normal to be more tired than usual. But if the pattern described above where you consciously procrastinate your way to bed is a common occurrence, LISTEN UP!

Truth Bomb: When you consistently skimp on regular adequate sleep, you quite literally cancel out a bulk of the work you did in the gym.

And this isn't just for the weight lifters! This is a public service announcement for the cardio queens, HIIT-junkies, and yogis of the world as well. The way your body repairs itself is unanimous across the board whether you are building muscle or shredding fat. If you are expecting to CHANGE your body with your workouts, sleep is one element you'll want to treat as seriously as that recovery drink in your hand.

Now for the science-y bit {so bear with us} - The TOP THREE factors about sleep that ultimately determine your results:

1} Cell Turnover

Our body and brain use the time we sleep not just to rest, but also to repair. Everything within us is working while we lay there unaware. When we allow our body this down-time, it works its magic: repairing our adrenal glands from every day stress, hydrating cells and eliminating toxins through our breath, replenishing our blood and organs with the nutrients we've consumed through the day, and repairing skin and lungs from free radicals {yep, it does A LOT while we dream}. The more down-time we give our body to do these things, the better we feel. Not to mention, we also LOOK a lot healthier due to brighter skin and carrying less internal irritation {I bet Jennifer Lopez makes sure she sleeps!}. The more regular our sleep is, the clearer we think, the more stable our energy, and the less we have to push {i.e. fake it} through the next day. If your day includes getting in that good-for-you workout, you'll have extra energy to go harder and reap greater rewards for your time. If sleep is wrong, we don't want to be right!

2} Hormones

Approximately 10 different hormones are affected by our sleep. These hormones regulate our appetite, our stress response, libido, and metabolism. For females it also affects our monthly cycle. When we go through periods of low sleep, each of these factors suffers. Our appetite goes up, our ability to react logically to stressful situations {or even just a bad commute} goes down, and our libido is totally shot.

Truth nugget: this person sounds like one heck of a Debbie Downer! And no one wants to be friends with a Debbie...

The less we sleep, the more our body holds onto stubborn belly fat due to an increase in cortisol {the stress hormone} at night. Cortisol should be low while we sleep as our body repairs itself. If it remains high due to recurrent stress, our bodies cannot get into a full relaxation state and our sleep quality is reduced. Our biology is designed so cortisol levels turn back up again for about 1-hour after we first wake up as an energy boost. Therefore, if you're going to bed late and waking up early, your cortisol isn't getting much of a break. This never ending hormone release increases the risk of inflammation in the body, which not only leads to belly fat, but leaky gut and a host of other digestive issues that keep the pounds on or you feeling funky. If left unaddressed {yes, speaking even to you "healthy" people! No one is immune and the signs may not show for years} this inflammation can lead to chronic illness. Maybe we need LESS CRUNCHES and more sleep!

3} Muscle Repair Cycle

When we work out, whether that's an outdoor sport, stretching, resistance training, plyometrics, short-burst or endurance training, we work muscles in our body. It doesn't matter if you're using a yoga mat or a Smith Machine, you've felt that muscle burn at some point in time. To most of us, that burn or soreness signifies a good workout, that our time spent was worth it. But that pain may not always signify muscles growing or reshaping if we aren't sleeping properly.

Muscles break down during our workouts...that's the point! But then muscles utilize proteins and amino acids in our foods to repair and rebuild stronger than they were before...and they do this best either just AFTER our workout or WHILE WE SLEEP.

Without proper nutrition after a workout, and without proper REST, we can actually reverse the muscle repair process {and we were working out again because...?}.

So, remember all that talk about hormones above? Growth hormone is one hormone that works at night during REM sleep. Disturb that sleep cycle, and you can actually cause your body to break down muscle instead of build it up. Fuel your body up right at dinner with some extra protein, and use sleep as the tool to reap the benefits of your hard work!

So there you have it...If you needed permission to shut off the computer and sleep in an extra hour on the weekends we just gave it to you! If only those kindergarten naps we never took had a roll-over plan!! Adults should aim for a regular average of 7 hours of sleep each night. Key word: REGULAR. Your complexion and your waistline will thank you for it...and upon looking in the mirror, you'll be thanking yourself!

{pushes play on that "***Flawless" track...."I woke up this 'dis"}


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