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Hack Your Sleep Cycle For Faster Fat Loss

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Today we are often told that to be successful, we must give up sleeping. We are convinced that we must constantly be on the go and we can ‘sleep when we’re dead’. We are also led to believe that we can train our body to require less sleep and still be able to function.

The truth is, none of this is accurate. You cannot train your body to require less sleep and sleep can be the difference between success and failure. It plays a significant role on how our bodies function, as well as its ability to lose fat effectively.

In this post, you’ll learn:

  • How our body controls our sleep cycle
  • Ways we disrupt our sleep cycles
  • The relationship between sleep and your metabolic system
  • Top 3 sleep hacks

It is pretty well understood that getting adequate sleep is important to our overall health, yet many of us push ourselves to the limit, too preoccupied with our hectic lives, to get enough of it. Many of us also tend to fail to recognize the importance of combining adequate sleep with a regular sleeping routine. Having a sleeping schedule that is all over the place can be detrimental to our overall physical and mental health. More specifically, though, erratic sleep cycles can slow your metabolic system, which in turn can have a huge impact on your weight loss. Learning how to control your circadian rhythms could be the key to using sleep in your favor.

What Controls Our Sleep Cycle?

Our lives and our sleep habits are naturally governed by circadian rhythms, which is the natural biological rhythm our bodies follow a 24-hour cycle, letting our bodies know when it is time to sleep and when it is time to be awake. One thing that controls our circadian system is the SCN, or suprachiasmatic nucleus, a tiny region of the brain located directly above our optic chiasma. We get environmental cues through our optic nerves that trigger our SCN. When our eyes begin to take in less light, the SCN triggers the release of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Our ancient ancestors would get this same trigger with the setting and rise of the sun, signaling to their bodies when to sleep and when to wake. The presence of the sun naturally helped to keep our ancestors on a natural circadian rhythm [1].

Light, Disruptions, and Electronics 

With the invention of artificial light and its increasing use, especially with the increasing use of artificial light from electronic devices, such as smartphones, our circadian rhythm is constantly being affected. This can have damaging effects on our mental and physical health [2].

The study shows that the disruption of our circadian rhythm, which is often disrupted by late-night activities, shift work or frequent jet lag, has been linked to health issues such as metabolic disturbances, obesity, metabolic syndrome, under chronic conditions, diabetes and mental disorders [3].

Research suggests that disruption or alteration of the circadian rhythm, brought on by the lifestyles and lighting conditions of the modern world, can lead to a wide range of mood disorders, such as impulsivity, mania, and depression, as well as the loss of internal temporal order and neurobiological and behavioral dysfunctions. This happens as a result of the altering of hormones, such as serotonin, noradrenaline, and dopamine [4].

Sleep and Metabolic Regulations

Disruptions and alterations of our sleep cycles, especially when related to an internal biological clock, also alters our feeding times and the way our metabolism works. It has been noted that people who regularly get too little sleep or too much sleep are more at risk for type 2 diabetes, as well as developing a higher risk for a night eating disorder. One reason was that an altered sleep/wake times increase the range of circulating leptin, the satiety hormone, with the lowest leptin levels occurring upon wakefulness [5]. When we are low on leptin, it tells our body that we need to eat to replenish our fat storage, as if we were going into starvation mode. This causes us to overeat.

People often think that lean muscle gain and fat loss just happens at the gym. But the truth is that muscle building and fat loss happen during the recovery. Your body does the most important recovery when you sleep, there for skimping out on good sleep will hurt you and be a roadblock in your goals in the long run. So how do you use sleep to your advantage?

If you’ve been following us on social media, then you know we just finished reading the book, Sleep Smarter, by Shawn Stevenson. This book provided many tips on how to get better sleep, so we wanted to share our favorite ones with you.

Here are our top tips to hacking your sleep cycle: 

  1. Creating a schedule is one of the best ways to get the most benefits from your sleep. Going to sleep at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every day will help you regulate your sleep, making it easier to fall asleep every night and easier to wake up every morning. When your body gets used to sleeping on a schedule, you wake up more refreshed. To help you get into a schedule, try creating a routine around bedtime, something you only do when you are about to sleep. Little things like routine, and the simple act of getting into bed, helps to tell your mind that it is bedtime as you learn to associate specific triggers with sleep.
  2. We are hardwired to be awake during the daytime and modern lighting can tell our bodies that it isn’t time to sleep. This is especially true of the light emitted by screens, such as television screens and smartphones, due to the blue light that they emit. Turn off any screen and electronic device at least an hour and a half before you get into bed. Instead, reach for a book and include this in your nighttime routine.
  3. Turn your bedroom into a sleep sanctuary. Get some houseplants to improve air quality and make your room as comfortable and relaxing as possible. Keep your bedroom activities limited, as it should be associated with bedtime. Make an agreement to keep your workspace out of the bedroom. This will teach you subconsciously that when you enter into the bedroom, that it is time for sleep.

Understanding why sleep is important to our overall health is the first step in understanding how to live healthier. It’s also the first step in regulating your metabolism and understanding how to use it to your advantage. Sleep controls so many of our essential functions, including metabolic rates, that ignoring it, not only can make your health journey difficult, can put your long-term health at risk.

The second step is committing to enough sleep each night. That means, realizing that choosing a workout over enough sleep hurts you more in the end than just rescheduling your workout. The same goes for overcommitting your day, and sacrificing sleep to “get a little extra done.” Remember it’s all connected: from the foods you eat, and the workouts you do, to how you let your body recuperate. Putting sleep first puts your health first.

If you are interested in seeing what other books we are reading, make sure to check out Morellifit on Snapchat!

The BEST Cardio for Faster Fat Loss

So I’m going back on my word.

I guess this could sound like a contradiction.

See, I’ve always come across as pretty anti-cardio.

I bash long-form cardio and decry it as a method for burning fat.

Here’s why –

Your typical person who relies on long-form cardio (i.e. a 60-minute steady session on the treadmill, the elliptical or the recumbent bike) is around 20% body fat – possibly even higher.

They do their workout, finish up feeling, well – pretty fresh still, hardly having broken a sweat.

They repeat this 5, maybe even 6 days per week, and get …

Absolutely nowhere.

See, there are 2 reasons why this long-form cardio is absolutely useless for our above individual.

1. They’re not focusing on their diet

It doesn’t matter how much cardio you do, if you’re not cutting down on junk, monitoring your caloric intake, and eating plenty of good, wholesome, clean foods, you simply won’t burn fat.

2. They’re not an endurance athlete

This slow, steady state cardio definitely has a place if you’re a runner, a triathlete, a cyclist, or if boosting stamina is your main goal.

If not, it’s a pretty lousy way to torch fat.

Finding Your Foundation:

Before deciding on what the “best” form of cardio is, you need to sort out your foundation.

The foundation is the mode of training you base your whole routine around.

When it comes to fat loss, that needs to be weight training.

No ifs, no buts – weight training is by far the most effective way to rid yourself of unwanted body fat, torch calories and boost your metabolism.

After you’ve got this in place, taking the number 1 spot, it’s time to work out what comes in after the weights in terms of importance.

What is HIIT: 

HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training.

After weights and diet, it’s just about the best thing you can do to get that lean, ripped body.

It’s a form of cardio, but it’s far superior to long-form cardio.

HIIT combines very short but very intense, periods of all-out maximum effort – think sprinting, running up a hill, or even pedaling a stationary bike at a super-high resistance for all you’re worth.

You intersperse these “sprints” – whether they last 15 seconds, 30 seconds, or even a minute – with resting periods, where you don’t stop, but take it a bit easier to recover, and get ready for your next burst.

This cardio is seriously effective.

I’ve actually got a whole program dedicated to it, that’s how much I believe in it.

HIIT MAX™ has been downloaded by over 35,000 people in just the first 6mo of its creation, and is changing bodies and lives the world over, helping men and women shed fat faster than ever before.

Here’s why HIIT is so great –

  • You get an insane metabolism boost, which increases your body’s calorie burning potential.
  • You keep torching calories AFTER you finish working out
  • You get better results in less time
  • It helped me (and thousands of others) go from 25% body fat … to sub-10% body fat. It is that effective.

⚡ Related: Learn whether or not HIIT is right for you

What is LISS:

Another acronym for you – LISS.

That’s Low-Intensity Steady State.

Now LISS involves working at a low-intensity, and often fasted, on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning (which is actually what I’m doing in my own training right now.)

The benefits of LISS include –

  • It’s an easy way to burn a few extra calories without compromising recovery
  • It can actually aid muscle recuperation, helping you feel less sore
  • It’s easier to do on an empty stomach, so you get the fat-burning benefits of fasted cardio without wanting to throw up
  • It hardly takes any effort. It’s a simple, straightforward, calorie-burning “win”.

Once again, LISS should NOT be the foundation of any fat burning program.

Just like the scenario, we started this article with – our guy or girl at 20% body fat – making LISS the mainstay in your routine is not a smart option.

You need strength training and you need HIIT.

That being said, LISS does have a place for certain people.

The main reason for this is that the pace at which you do LISS (around 135 to 145 heartbeats per minute) is the optimal zone for burning fat without sacrificing muscle.

And when you’re already very lean, (i.e. sub-10% body fat) that matters.

The Cardio Continuum 

Here’s how it goes.

How you need to schedule your workouts, your foundations, and your priorities –

1. Strength Work OR HIIT

Ideally, I’d like you to make strength training the key player in your regime.

But HIIT works too – if you do it right.

A program like HIIT MAX™ for example, incorporates strength training as a form of cardio, so you can choose this, or traditional strength training supersets and circuits.

2. LISS

This should always be seen as an addition.

If you’re starting your journey, it’s unlikely to be the best use of your time, but if you need a simple way to burn a few extra calories, or are pretty much “there” and just looking to burn some flab while preserving muscle, add LISS after your HIIT or strength work, or do a little first thing in the morning.

3. Long-Form Cardio

For most folks, this just isn’t needed.

But if you want to increase your endurance, or partake in an event like a marathon or triathlon at the same time as getting lean, then make some time for slow, steady, longer duration cardio.

There you have it.

Cardio has a place in everybody’s routine, it’s just that the type of cardio you do, and how you prioritize it depends entirely on your goals, and where you are in your transformation.

So, what method of cardio were you using and will you make some changes?

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