Chris Nicoll

Sleep is one of the most neglected aspects of health for most bodybuilders. Getting ready for the Olympia is fllled with anxiety and stress, so getting a good night’s sleep while prepping can be diffcult at times. Studies in volunteers who slept short versus long hours show that sleep reduction was accompanied by increased hunger, higher circulating concentrations of the appetite-stimulating hormone, ghrelin, and reduced concentrations of the anorexigenic hormone, leptin. To determine whether sleep restriction attenuates the effects of a reduced-calorie diet on excess adiposity, researchers had subjects follow a similar diet but differed the duration of sleep. One group slept 8½ hours per night while the other group slept 5½ hours. Sleep curtailment decreased the fraction of weight lost of fat by 55%and increased the loss of fat-free body mass by 60%. In summary, dieting adults getting 5½ hours of sleep produced a catabolic state characterized by reduced loss of body fat and increased loss of fat-free body mass, accompanied by increased hunger and changes in energy expenditure and the neuroendocrine control of substrate utilization. The findings should make bodybuilders aware that cutting back on sleep while dieting can not only cause a catabolic state but can also hinder fat-loss gains. – FLEX