Why You Might Not Be Growing Part 1


You’re probably reading this and wondering why you may not be making the progress you want in the gym. Maybe you’re not loosing fat fast enough, maybe your not gaining muscle at the rate that you want, maybe its a combination of the two. Either way, these are the situations were people typically first start doing MORE. MORE cardio. MORE training. MORE of a caloric deficit, and if theres one thing I learned from my last contest prep, its that MORE ISNT ALWAYS BETTER. Simply put, better is better or quality over quantity. And one of the most overlooked variables in muscle growth or fat loss IS SLEEP. Sleep deprivation is linked with obesity and many health disorders, so its no wonder, IF YOUR NOT SLEEPING, YOU SIMPLY CANNOT PROGRESS. In fact, acute partial sleep deprivation increases plasma concentrations of ghrelin and decreases those of leptin. This was a study looked at by Brondel et al (1).

“The objective was to observe modifications in energy intake and physical activity after acute partial sleep deprivation in healthy men. Twelve men [age: 22 +/- 3 y; body mass index (in kg/m(2)): 22.30 +/- 1.83] completed a randomized 2-condition crossover study. During the first night of each 48-h session, subjects had either approximately 8 h (from midnight to 0800) or approximately 4 h (from 0200 to 0600) of sleep. All foods consumed subsequently (jam on buttered toast for breakfast, buffet for lunch, and a free menu for dinner) were eaten ad libitum. Physical activity was recorded by an actimeter. Feelings of hunger, perceived pleasantness of the foods, desire to eat some foods, and sensation of sleepiness were also evaluated. In comparison with the 8-h sleep session, subjects consumed 559 +/- 617 kcal (ie, 22%) more energy on the day after sleep restriction (P < 0.01), and preprandial hunger was higher before breakfast (P < 0.001) and dinner (P < 0.05). No change in the perceived pleasantness of the foods or in the desire to eat the foods was observed. Physical activity from 1215 to 2015 was higher after sleep restriction than after 8 h of sleep (P < 0.01), even though the sensation of sleepiness was more marked (P < 0.01). One night of reduced sleep subsequently increased food intake and, to a lesser extent, estimated physical activity-related energy expenditure in healthy men. These experimental results, if confirmed by long-term energy balance measurements, suggest that sleep restriction could be a factor that promotes obesity.” But this is just the beginning. Not only can it be very closely linked with obesity but its hormonal effects are astounding!

First, we should look at testosterone levels in a study from Leproult et al on the effects of 1 Week of Sleep Restriction on Testosterone Levels in Young Healthy Men. After 1 week of 8-hour bedtimes (from 11 PM to 7 AM) at home, the participants spent 11 days in the laboratory for 3 nights of 10-hour bedtimes (from 10 PM to 8 AM; rested condition) followed by 8 nights of 5-hour bedtimes (from 12:30 AM to 5:30 AM; sleep restriction). Sleep was recorded each night and visually scored in stages 1, 2, 3, 4, and rapid eye movement (REM). Blood sampling every 15 to 30 minutes for 24 hours was initiated after the second 10-hour night and after the seventh 5-hour night. Samples were assayed for total testosterone and cortisol using an immunochemiluminescent assay (Immulite, Los Angeles, California). (To convert serum testosterone to ng/dL, divide by 0.0347; to convert serum cortisol to μg/dL, divide by 27.588.)


  1. Acute partial sleep deprivation increases food intake in healthy men. Laurent Brondel, Michael A. Romer, Pauline M. Nougues, Peio Touyarou, Damien Davenne. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20357041)
  2. Effect of 1 Week of Sleep Restriction on Testosterone Levels in Young Healthy Men. Leproult, R., & Van Cauter, E. (2011). (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4445839/)
  3. Sleep deprivation reduces circulating androgens in healthy men. V. Cortés-Gallegos, G. Castañeda, R. Alonso, I. Sojo, A. Carranco, C. Cervantes, A. Parra. Arch Androl. 1983 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6405703)
  4. Sleep loss results in an elevation of cortisol levels the next evening. R. Leproult, G. Copinschi, O. Buxton, E. Van Cauter. Sleep. 1997 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9415946)
  5. Sleep disturbances are correlated with decreased morning awakening salivary cortisol. Jutta Backhaus, Klaus Junghanns, Fritz Hohagen. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2004 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15219642)
  6. Growth hormone secretion during sleep. Y. Takahashi, D. M. Kipnis, W. H. Daughaday. J Clin Invest. 1968 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/5675428)
  7. Effect of sleep deprivation on overall 24 h growth-hormone secretion. G. Brandenberger, C. Gronfier, F. Chapotot, C. Simon, F. Piquard. Lancet. 2000 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11052586)
  8. Influence of partial sleep deprivation on energy balance and insulin sensitivity in healthy women. Anja Bosy-Westphal, Silvia Hinrichs, Kamila Jauch-Chara, Britta Hitze, Wiebke Later, Britta Wilms, Uta Settler, Achim Peters, Dieter Kiosz, Manfred James Muller. Obes Facts. 2008 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20054188)
  9. Optimism and self-esteem are related to sleep. Results from a large community-based sample. Sakari Lemola, Katri Räikkönen, Veronica Gomez, Mathias Allemand. Int J Behav Med. 2013 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23055029)
  10. Sleep duration and cardiometabolic risk: a review of the epidemiologic evidence. Kristen L. Knutson. Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21112022)

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