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Weight loss transformation diaries week 4: How sleep deprivation affects results

It’s her weight loss transformation’s week four and Vanessa Chalmers has lost almost three kilos – not as much as she’d wished, so she starts taking her sleep deprivation seriously 

8 week weight loss transformation Healthista's Vanessa Chalmers' results, no1 fitness, by
Vanessa’s results after eight weeks

So here we are at the beginning of week four of my transformation with Ben Camara at No1 Fitness (see the full results after eight weeks here). There is some bouncing back to be done. Week three ended with a flop, but it’s all about progress – not perfection, right? In total I have lost 2.3kg, a tinsy bit of body fat and – dun dun dun… – a lot of sleep.

It wasn’t my wisest move staying up till sunrise on the weekend. In general, I’m not getting enough shut eye (the recommended 7-9 hours) and ironically the topic alone makes me snooze with boredom. According to statistics, I’m not the only one not taking sleep seriously. The NHS say one in three of us suffer from poor sleep. The average Brit gets six hours and 49 minutes a night, according to a Royal Society for Public Health survey, and as a result, one third of people feel depressed and more than half are getting stressed as a result.

Sleep loss costs the UK economy over £30bn a year in lost revenue

This has led to a ‘catastrophic sleep-loss epidemic’, according to Professor Matthew Walker, author of Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams. Speaking to The Guardian, the director of the Centre for Human Sleep Science at the University of California, Berkeley, said ‘I take my sleep incredibly seriously because I have seen the evidence’. Not only does he refer to the link with killer diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity and poor mental health, but the fact sleep loss costs the UK economy over £30bn a year in lost revenue.

It sounds bad, but it still doesn’t urge me to hit the sack. Until Ben, my personal trainer for the weight loss transformation and co-founder of No1 Fitness, hits me with a girl’s worst nightmare – ‘you look tired’. That’s WITH MAKEUP ON. But he in fact means my performance in the gym.

Weight loss transformation diaries week 4 How sleep deprivation is effecting results
Before an evening workout – even a Snapchat filter isn’t doing this grumpy tired face favours.

How sleep effects exercise performance

Serena Williams goes to bed at 7pm every night (OMG?!)

‘If you get a good night sleep you’ll perform better in the gym and therefore burn more calories’, Ben lectures tells me. Of course, he’s right – in one study, Stanford University basketball team increased their speed by 5 per cent, their free throws accuracy by 9 per cent and reflex speed by adding an extra two hours of sleep a night. Other studies have shown similar benefits for athletes, and the fact Serena Williams reportedly goes to bed at 7pm every night (OMG?!) says a lot for her tennis triumphs.

‘We get our results not when we work out but when we rest’, says Ben. ‘Sleep is when your body recovers, repairs muscles, resets hormones and uses body fat to function.’

Sleep deprivation and weight loss – it doesn’t look pretty

The sleep cycle lasts around 90 minutes whereby we move through different stages of sleep, some of which scientists don’t fully understand yet. Although Sleep Behaviour, Sleep Environment and Sleep Product Expert (AKA The Sleep Geek) James Wilson tells me the most important for our physical and emotional wellbeing are the Deep and REM stages. ‘In deep sleep (which we get more of earlier in the night) growth hormone is released which is incredibly important if you are going through a weight loss transformation. There has also been some research on Deep Sleep being important to clearing our brains to allow us to learn new things the next day.

‘REM sleep occurs later in the night and is thought to be important to memory retention, learning and our emotional wellbeing. It is the stage of sleep where we dream the most and where we are more likely to remember our dreams. During your weight loss transformation this stage of sleep is important to your emotional resilience and if you were getting good quality REM sleep you would have found it easier to stick to your diet and exercise regime.’

Sleep deprivation amplifies the enjoyment of eating, particularly from naughty foods

Now, there is something very appealing about food when I’m sleepy – it instinctly signifies an energy source to me. Previously, studies have linked this increased appetite to higher levels of ghrelin (a ‘hunger hormone’) and low leptin levels (a ‘fullness hormone’). But the plot thickens: this study found that sleep deprivation amplifies the enjoyment of eating, particularly from naughty sweet, salty and high-fat foods. Researchers from The University of Chicago went as far as to say it mimics cravings from marijuana use (otherwise referred to as ‘the munchies’!)

Participants in the study were unable to resist what the researchers called ‘highly palatable, rewarding snacks,’ even though they had consumed a meal that supplied 90 percent of their daily caloric needs two hours before. They ate nearly twice as much fat as when they had slept for eight hours and their appetite was highest in the late afternoon and early evening, times when snacking has been linked to weight gain.

Why can’t I sleep?

Never mind getting into dreamyland REM state, I first need to figure out how to nod off seeing as it can take me an hour or more. This can be attributed to a chain of events that have each been linked to poor sleep – I have a long commute home, I therefore go to bed with a full tummy and I am unwinding with my phone or TV until minutes before I switch the light off. My 5.45am alarm feels like three seconds after I nod off at 11.30pm.

One of the biggest problems I notice is I literally feel buzzing when I go to sleep like an excited child on Christmas eve. ‘We would usually see this kind of symptom in people who exercise too close to bedtime, less than three hours generally’, says James. But what if you are a morning gym-goer? ‘It could be your body reacting to going from no exercise to lots and lots of exercise. Additionally it could be that your body has something of an energy deficit (from exercise and sleep deprivation) and it compensates for it by producing more adrenaline.’ That’s it – I feel like I am setting up for a race.

Latest research into ADHD has found a link between poor sleep and children who suffer from it

‘We see this quite a lot in active children who are sleep deprived; their parents will be saying “they don’t need sleep, look they are bouncing off the walls” when in fact it is the sleep deprivation that is causing the behaviour. In fact, the latest research into ADHD has found a link between poor sleep and children who suffer from it.’

3 products that helped my sleep deprivation

Luckily for me, a yoga retreat at Chilston Park Hotel comes at the end of week four (read my review here), where I am granted a much needed three days off intense exercise. On top of this, I get my hands on some amazing products to ease me into sleep whilst I work on that social-media-scrolling- in-bed habit.

1. Healthista Night Food

Weight loss transformation diaries week 4 How sleep deprivation is effecting results, by
I stir a scoop of Night Food into hot almond milk

I took this before bed and it knocked me out cold giving me the best sleep in a very long time. I like  a teaspoon mixed into warm almond milk or a cup of tea as its banana flavoured (but without artificial flavourings). Ingredients chamomile, lemon balm, cinnamon, ginger, passionfruit and camomile calm the nervous system, which not only helps you nod off but could help with weight loss. ‘If you’re less stressed, your body will keep less fat around the middle and this will help you metabolise fat’, says formulator and nutritionist Rick Hay.

Buy Healthista Night Food, £18.99

2. Tisserand Aromatherapy’s Sweet Dreams Collection

It’s all about creating that ~ z e n~. I’m using Tisserand Sweet Dreams Pillow Mist (£12.95) and the Tisserand 10 ml Sweet Dreams Aromatherapy Roller Ball (£4.46) which contain Lavender essential oil, known for its sedative and relaxant qualities.

Weight loss transformation diaries week 4 How sleep deprivation is effecting results, by

3. BetterYou Magnesium Flakes

Weight loss transformation diaries week 4 How sleep deprivation is effecting results, by (2)Magnesium is sometimes regarded the secret for better sleep. Research from the University of Edinburgh and the University of Cambridge has shown that there is a relationship between our cells’ magnesium levels and the body’s ability to follow its sleep cycle efficiently. It also helps muscles relax after exercise or stress, so flakes are a perfect addition to the bath tub. If you’re looking for an easier answer, the Magnesium Body Butter (£9.95) or Magnesium Original Oil (£2.95) have the same effect.

Buy BetterYou Magnesium Flakes from Healthista Shop, £9.95

Three things I learnt this week

1. My heart is healthy (I think): We used heart rate monitoring in one of the Fitness Slots at No1 Fitness. Comparing results at the end of the class was rather disappointing for me. Despite working my hardest, my heart rate didn’t go above 67 per cent (compared to the highest in the class at 79 per cent), and my calorie burn was 188 (compared to the highest of 281).

2. Christmas is dawning: WHY have I chosen to do a weight loss transformation when the shop shelves are chocker with my favourite things in the world – Lindt chocolate balls, mince pies and Quality Street? EUGH!

3. My skin is tip top: I have a long history with eczema and it’s viciousness is effected by stress and what I eat and drink. This week, people have commented that my skin is ‘glowing’ – a far cry from sympathetic looks I have received before. A clean diet is definitely working, and if I can sort some beauty sleep too…

Results at the end of week four

By the end of week four, I’m back and slowly losing weight. My body fat percentage goes up which could be due to a number of things such as not going to the toilet that day or my menstrual cycle, so I’m not too worried.

Weight loss transformation diaries week 4 How sleep deprivation is effecting results, by (4)

Before/Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5
Weight 65.7kg 64.1kg 63.3kg 63.4kg 62.8kg
Body fat 25.1% 25.7% 23.4% 23.8% 24.5%
Hip 102.5cm 101.6cm 96cm 99.4cm 97.4cm
Waist below belly button 91cm 88cm 84.7cm 87cm 83.5cm
Overall weight loss N/A 1.6kg 2.4kg 2.3kg 2.9kg
Overall cm loss N/A 3.9cm 12.8cm 7.1cm 12.6cm


Workout of the week

For each circuit, do the exercises back to back, rest for 60 seconds, and repeat for amount of sets shown.

Warm Up Row 2 mins 32 spm
Hips Hip mobilisers and rotations 10 2
Single leg Romanian deadlift 10 2 5kg
Circuit one Single leg hip drive 15 4
Dumbbell deadlift 12 3  3:01 25kg dumbbell or barbell
Lateral shift 12 3 6kg ViPR, sandbag or kettlebell
Circuit two  Striding (running, not sprinting) 30 sec 4
Power plate squat hold (or wall sit hold) 30 sec 4
Squat jump 10 4
Circuit three Goblet squat 12 4 12kg
Walking lunges 16 4 3:01 7.5kg
Hollow plank hold 20 sec 3
8 week weight loss transformation Healthista's Vanessa Chalmers' results, no1 fitness, by (2)Come back every Tuesday to read Vanessa’s week by week diary of her weight loss transformation with Ben Camara at No1 Fitness, with tips and advice from the experts. 

Ben Camara has worked with some of the most famous faces in the world with training and health coaching clients including Madonna, Kate Moss and Vogue photographers Mert & Marcus. Having carved out a career in professional football, Ben Camara wanted his next career step to allow him to continue working in the field that he was passionate about, that of health, fitness and nutrition. He and Harry Thomas  co-founded No1 Fitness seven years ago, offering bespoke personal training in two locations in London.

Follow on Instagram or visit No1 Fitness website.


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