I promised last time a real life story on how correcting your sleep can optimize body composition levels and lead to fat loss. Sleeping in the 5-6 hour range will yield sub optimal performance and typically a nice fat deposit right at the waistline . Evan has so generously agreed to share his results. I am very pleased and happy for him. Share this with your fluffy sleep deprived friends.
You had asked me to give you some thoughts on my recent experiences with more sleep. As you know, I have been coming to CrossFit Kansas City for the last year, starting with two months in the bootcamp class, and the last ten months on the advanced side. Over that period, I have seen good progress in all of my benchmark workouts, strength, endurance, etc. As all of my advanced class friends and coaches can attest, I’m certainly not at the top of the class, but from where I started, the progress has been substantial. My weight when I showed up last year was 227, give or take. Six weeks later, it was 215. Then over the next couple of months, it climbed back to 222 ish, which is where I stayed until recently. I did not pay much attention to that weight gain because in my opinion (and there is probably some truth to this) the 222 six months in was a whole world different than the 227 when I showed up. With that said, the scale didn’t budge for months.
Up until about two months ago, I have been fairly dedicated to the 5:00 a.m. class. As a young attorney, my schedule is a bit unpredictable, and 5:00 a.m. seemed to be the time of day that was least likely to be interfered with. The benefit was that I was able to sustain attendance in the 3-4 time per week range (good for me, believe me). The only drawback was that even going to bed at 10:00, which is not the easiest thing to accomplish, I still had to get up at 4:30, which left me at 6.5 hours of sleep approximately 4 days per week.
While I was definitely more energized from getting into a regular fitness routine, I also was struggling a bit with feeling sluggish throughout the day. This was most noticeable come Friday night at about 7:00 when, after a long week of 4:30 wake-ups and workouts added to a hectic work schedule, I would frequently find myself passed out on the couch. Most work days around 2:30 I would also hit a wall. I wrote this off as the price you pay for trying to balance fitness and other obligations.
About two months ago, I was given the opportunity to transition within my law firm from one office to another. This meant a number of good things for me professionally, but also meant a chance to create a new work schedule. I jumped at that opportunity, and started swapping out some 5:00 a.m. classes for some 5:45 p.m. classes. When it became apparent that I might be able to sustain that schedule, I made a full-time switch to the 5:45 p.m. class, sprinkled with an occasional 5:00 a.m. class when I know I have something else scheduled that would make it impossible for me to attend in the evening. Those four nights a week that used to be 6.5 hours of sleep are now a solid 8-8.5.
Since making the switch I have noticed two things that have been very good for me. First, the days of 222 appear to have waived goodbye to me, as I have noticed a very steady change in my weight. My new baseline seems to be about 213, a good 9 pounds lighter. There’s no science* behind this next part, but I believe that weight came mostly out of the belly region given that I have had to make my belts 1 to 2 notches tighter than they used to be. Another great benefit has been that my days are SUBSTANTIALLY more productive than they used to be. I no longer feel tired throughout the day, and I show up at 5:45 pm ready to go for my workouts.
In any event, this is just my anecdotal look at your philosophy on sleep. By adding about 8 hours per week, I lost some dead weight and feel a lot better during the rest of my life. All in all, it’s a big win for me.
*There is actually very good science to predict accumulation of fat precisely in this spot.