When people think fat loss progress and results, what do you they think about?

What should I eat? Cut carbs? What’s the right or wrong type of fats? How much more exercise???

What about the quantity and quality of sleep?

That’s right, sleep.

All too often clients come to us having nailed their training and boasting of near 95% compliance with metabolically precise eating yet still falling short of their goals.

What is the one thing that can derail even the best training and greatest nutrition plan? You guessed it—LACK OF SLEEP!

Did you know that even one night of partial sleep deprivation could cause an otherwise healthy person to respond to meals as if they were diabetic? It is true. Sad, but true.

When it comes to sleep here are some common questions as well as some other really important things to consider.

I rarely get more than four hours of sleep a night. Is that enough?

While four hours may sound like a long night’s slumber to some, it is hardly enough to meet the sleep recommendations for an adult. The NIH recommendations for sleep are as follows:

Average Sleep Needs



Newborns (0-2 months)

12 - 18

Infants (3 months to 1 year)

14 - 15

Toddlers (1 to 3 years)

12 - 14

Preschoolers (3 to 5 years)

11 - 13

School-aged children (5 to 12 years)

10 - 11

Teens and preteens (12 to 18 years)

8.5 - 10

Adults (18+)

7.5 - 9

Even though I get less than the recommended amount of sleep each night, I still manage to make it through my days in a productive manner. Does this mean that I shouldn’t worry about falling short?

While it is not uncommon to hear people say that they only need 4 hours of sleep, optimal sleep duration is not defined as the fewest number of hours one can sleep while managing to be a somewhat productive member of society. Optimal sleep duration should be looked at as the number of hours required to restore optimal health and wellness.

Researchers estimate that 3% of the population may contain a gene that enables them to function at normal levels after having only 6 hours of sleep. That means that 97% of us are left in a chronic sleep deficit having only 6 hours of shut-eye each night. Most data suggest that optimal sleep for adults is 7.5-9 hours of sleep each night. This number may vary slightly depending on an individual’s activities. Busier, more active folks as well as those that may be ill require greater rest, recovery and therefore sleep

In addition to falling short in the recovery department, getting only four hours of sleep severely impacts your body’s ability to process nutrients. How severely? You’ll want to read this to be sure that you aren’t wasting your efforts in the gym and the kitchen!

When it comes to craving sweets, you may not be short in the willpower department; you’re probably just running short on sleep. Read more here about how this lack of sleep can cause cravings.

So, as long as I get 7.5-9 hours of sleep each night I should be ok?

Unfortunately no.

You see, not all sleep is created equal. There are 2 main states of sleep: REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM (non-rapid eye movement). These two main divisions are distinct in their physical, neurological and psychological characteristics. Since each sleep stage has different functions, deprivation of either of these periods affects us quite differently.

Tissue repair and immune system function are greatly affected during NREM sleep, as it is the period of physiological repair while REM sleep mainly affects mental functioning. Deficits in NREM sleep can result in less than optimal tissue repair and hormone secretion as well as a weakened immune response to stress. Persons suffering from lack of RNEM sleep often appear tired and lethargic. Deficits in REM sleep can affect creativity, memory, mood and overall mental status often leaving people feeling depressed.

How can I tell if I am not getting adequate, restful sleep?

Simply closing your eyes for 7.5-9 hours does not guarantee that you are getting restful sleep. If you often crawl out of bed after “enough” sleep, yet still feel less than ready to attack your day, you clearly are not getting enough restful sleep.

Here are just a few signs that may indicate you are not getting enough quality sleep:
• You fall asleep while driving
• You fall asleep in meetings or at other inappropriate times
• You have intolerance for cold temperatures
• You have frequent upper respiratory infections
• You have frequent injuries
• You have an elevated resting heart rate
• You have high blood pressure
• You have insulin resistance

Looking for a more concrete way to measure quality sleep? You’ll want to check this out for sure.

What if my training is scheduled for first thing in the morning and I didn’t get a good night’s sleep?

While any one person can have an “off” day with their schedule, if this becomes a continued pattern you will want to revisit your sleep schedule or your training schedule, or both!

Cutting your sleep short for training isn’t necessarily the best option.
Showing up to a training session after a night of less than optimal rest can definitely impair performance. Interestingly enough, the effect seen may be different if the training session is in the morning or the afternoon. Read on to learn the difference.

I’ve heard that melatonin can help with sleep. Is this true?

Yes, melatonin has been highlighted as something that may help promote restful sleep. It may also help with a host of t=other things. Be sure to read up on it here.

Is there ever a time where less sleep may be better than more?

Keep in mind that the average sleep cycle is 90 minutes. The consequences of waking in the middle of a cycle may be greater than the consequences of sleeping fewer hours.

In order to avoid waking in the middle of a sleep cycle, setting your alarm for a multiple of 90 minutes is recommended. You may have 8 hours available to sleep before you need to wake for work, but doing so will mean interrupting a sleep cycle. Instead, opt for setting your alarm for 7.5 hours of sleep.

Can I get too much sleep?

While the jury is still out on what too much sleep is there have been more than a few studies that have linked sleeping more than 9 hours each night to increased risk of back pain, diabetes, depression, heart disease and even death.

This is an area that requires more research for sure. But for now, it is safe to say that if you, or someone you know, regularly sleeps more than 9-10 hours a night you will want to have them checked by a doctor for safety’s sake.

Reading about the effects of sleep deprivation and the effects it has on training, cravings, performance, and fat loss in adults, is this something that I should be concerned about with my children?

Sleep deprivation has negative effects whether you are an adult or a child. Studies show that children who are sleep deprived are more likely to reach for sugary, sweet foods than children who are well rested.

If you want to keep your child’s waist from expanding and keep them from developing insulin resistance, you’ll want to be sure that they get plenty of rest.

Check out this fantastic article that covers what you need to know about children and sleep.

Like most MPers you are surely aiming for improved health and body composition.
Doing so requires that we address food intake, food quality, and exercise. This is the no-brainer approach to health, meaning that most people would be able to identify these factors as ones that need to be addressed and mastered.

What if we have mastered these factors and we STILL aren’t getting the results we want? Then it is time to consider addressing the most commonly overlooked aspect of health and weight loss- sleep. Just like with our food intake, we need to look at our ‘intake’ of sleep and its quality, not just to achieve our body transformation, but for our health transformation.

Before you put this topic to rest, you will want to give a listen to my audio, Everything you want to know about sleep Part 1 and part 2 located in our mp-body.com audio library. 

Michelle has a Bachelor’s and Masters degree from the University of South Carolina. An amazing athlete, Michelle has won the IFBB Toronto Figure Championships and competes in ultra marathon races. As a Certified MP Level 4 Transformation Specialist/On-line Coach, Michelle enjoys nothing more than helping people learn how to achieve Metabolic Precision. Contact Michelle here.

Special Discounted Offer!!

  • Over 120 NEW Body Sculpting Recipes.
  • Over 300 recipes on-line!
  • My Food Prep video series!
  • Access my Exclusive Members Zone!