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Prior to meeting a client for the first time, I ask them to complete a questionnaire. This gives me an opportunity to understand who they are, what they are all about, and their lifestyle.

The questionnaire has a comprehensive section on sleep, in fact below are some of the questions in the questionnaire related to sleep. I’d like you to take a moment to answer them:

1. Do you sleep less than 7 – 8 hours per night?

2. Do you wake up feeling tired?

3. Do you sleep in a room with any light or noise?

4. Do you have trouble falling asleep at night?

5. Do you wake up in the middle of the night?

6. Do you have difficulty waking up in the morning?

If you have answered yes to four or more of the above, it is highly likely that your quality and quantity of sleep is poor.

Stages of Sleep

Sleep involves multiple stages; each stage is progressively deeper and moves from physiological to neurological recovery and restoration.

Stages of Sleep

- N1 (n stage 1) is the transitional stage

- N2 (n stage 2) mixed frequency + low voltage (sleep spindles and K complexes)

- N3 (n stage 3 and 4) slow-wave delta sleep

- REM, mixed frequency, similar to N1 with no sleep spindles or K complexes

N1 to N3 is mostly physical restoration and recovery, REM is brain restoration and recovery.

These stages make up a sleep cycle that lasts approximately 90 minutes and should occur multiple times throughout the night. If disrupted the quality of your sleep will be lowered and you will not feel fully rested the next day.

Why is sleep so important?

Poor quality sleep will impact you on a day-to-day basis. This is due to the disruption on the body poor sleep has to your hormones.

The hormones affected are growth hormone, melatonin, cortisol, and insulin. These are the hormones that need to be stable and balanced for optimal body composition.

Growth hormone

This hormone plays a key role in the development of your muscles and bones, aswell as fat burning. You produce a large portion of growth hormone in the first few hours of deep sleep. Growth hormone levels will naturally start to decrease from your late 20’s. The quality of your sleep will contribute to how fast it declines. Growth hormone enables you to build lean muscle more effectively, making it important for optimal fat loss. Fat loss becomes difficult with low levels of growth hormone and improving the quality and quantity of your sleep will increase growth hormone levels.


The body needs complete darkness to produce this hormone. Melatonin is produced

in the pineal gland and promotes healthy sleep cycles and is also involved in

energy metabolism. Waking up in the middle of the night interrupts melatonin production. When I ask my clients the reason for waking up I often get told that it is to go to the bathroom, believe it or not, I recommend to my clients not to drink anything 90 minutes before bed, but if they do wake up, to go back to sleep and not to go to the bathroom (to this day I haven’t had a client have any issues from doing this)


Cortisol is referred to as the stress hormone and is part of our survival mechanism, think of the “fight or flight” situation. We produce cortisol naturally in the morning during the process of us waking up, and it gradually lowers over the course of the day into the evening as the day moves into the evening.

This is directly related to our circadian rhythm, our natural sleep/wake cycle. Our body should produce high levels of cortisol in the morning to help us wake up, with it lowering gradually throughout the day, as you get into the evening as it gets darker.


Insulin is the hormone that controls your blood sugar level. A lack of sleep will cause an imbalance in your blood sugar levels. Less fat-storage sleep will result in your blood sugar levels rising.

When your blood sugar levels are high, your body produces insulin. Insulin is often referred to as the fat-storage hormone. When you don’t use the blood sugar that is produced for energy, more often than not it will be stored as body fat.

Lifestyle Influences on Sleep

Unfortunately, as society and technology have evolved, we find that cortisol remains high right up to bedtime, as a result of watching television late, flicking through social media on phones or laptops, which are sources of blue-light, one of the strongest cues to our biological clock / circadian rhythm which gets our body and brain alert and ready in the morning.

This awakening phase of our circadian rhythm is called zeitgeber which is where an external or environmental cue synchronises our biological rhythms to the earth’s 24-hour light/dark cycle and 12-month cycle. Zeitgebers come in many forms such as light, drugs, temperature, social interactions, pharmacological manipulation, exercise, eating, and drinking patterns.

Sleep Studies

Epidemiological and sleep lab data has shown that sleeping for five hours or less is not enough to be fully rested, both physiologically and neurologically, and adults who have six hours of sleep or less often use the weekends or power naps to pay off sleep debt accumulated during the working week.

These studies and tests were conducted to analyse performance with a lack of sleep and have shown with poor or lack of sleep performance and perception of performance is significantly impacted. Similar to poor or inadequate nutrition, health and performance reduce with lack of sleep, and the brain and body are unable to adapt.

Our natural body clock / circadian rhythm times our sleep. Even if you wake and fall back asleep during the night or get less and less sleep you will get a second wind in the morning as our circadian rhythm kicks in and tells us to get up irrespective of how well you slept. We have come up with the ability not to abide by our circadian rhythm, but our biology just doesn’t allow us to.

Studies on nurses, firemen, night-shift workers, and those working on ships have all been found to have an increased likelihood of heart disease, tendencies of weight gain, and other dysfunctions.

Do you or your partner snore?

Snoring is an indication of a blockage in the throat, the mildest form causing vibration noises, however loud snoring especially gasps, snorts, and pauses are a sign of a common sleeping disorder called Sleep Apnoea, where the flow of air is blocked causing choking – Apnoea is Greek for ‘without breathing.’

The body’s defense is to wake up and this can occur every 30-60 seconds completely disrupting sleep.

Sleep ‘Debt’

Earlier I alluded to the fact that it is a common practice for many people to use the weekend to lie in for several hours at the weekend to catch up with sleep, paying off your sleep debt as you didn’t get enough sleep during the working week.

Sleep sends a cue to our circadian rhythm that we are trying to change times zones and by extending sleep for more than an hour, although you may feel better initially, the following night sleep will be disrupted.

Referred to as ‘social jetlag’ the body attempts to adapt but your physiology will not allow it, it would be like waking up in Dubai time but living in London.

The best way to pay sleep debt is through afternoon naps as these do not disrupt your circadian rhythm. Keep your naps to no longer than an hour, and you should wake up feeling rested.

Fixing your sleep

Here are strategies that I provide for all of my clients. Take some time to

work through each one. `I suggest starting with two, and every week applying the next one.

1. If you struggle to relax and go to sleep, use magnesium glycinate.

Magnesium glycinate is a relaxant, it will help you relax, your muscles, and will help

you sleep. I use Nutridyn as my preferred choice -

2. Avoid coffee and other stimulants after 2 pm.

3. Avoid alcohol – alcohol suppresses REM sleep and disrupts our circadian rhythm

4. Avoid eating and drinking 90 minutes before bed

5. Set a bedtime and wake-up routine, go to bed at the same time every night and get

up at the same time. 6-8hrs sleep during the summer and 7-9hrs sleep in the winter.

6. Fit black-out blinds in your room, your bedroom should be like a cave.

7. Sleep in a cool room to reduce cortisol – if the room temperature is too high it

causes fragmented sleep – better still sleep naked!

8. Remove or turn off all electronic devices in the bedroom

9. Take a warm bath half an hour before bed (add 500 grams of Epsom salts into your

bath, the salts/nutrients will absorb through the skin and help with relaxation).

10. Fill in a grateful log. Before you go to bed, acknowledge 5 great things that

you’ve either had done to you or you’ve done for someone else.

11. Counting and breathing in for four sec, hold for four sec, out for four sec, hold for four

sec – this will put you into a parasympathetic state, or rest and digest state

By addressing and fixing your poor sleep patterns, you will see body fat come down. Not only that but your mood will improve, energy levels will increase, and you will see an increase in performance in your day-to-day activities at work and in the gym.

Addressing your sleep in my opinion is a priority foremost to improve your health, but to achieve amazing fast and weight loss results.


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