When it comes to looking to improve body composition by increasing lean tissue and reducing fatty tissue, sleep is often an overlooked but very crucial component.
In a recent study the researchers recruited 30 male participants, these participants were untrained (no regular resistance exercise in the last six months) students or university employees with no significant sleep problems. The authors administered a pre-study questionnaire to assess pre-existing sleep issues, and subjects were excluded if they reported having sleep problems for more than two continuous weeks.
The final analysis included 22 subjects, with 10 in the sleep group (training + sleep intervention) and 12 in the control group (training only).
The control group underwent a 10-week resistance training program, while the sleep group completed the same training program, but also received a sleep health education intervention at the beginning of the study. The sleep education was intended to help participants in the sleep group improve the quantity and quality of their sleep.
Both groups increased lean mass throughout the study; the increase was larger in the exercise + sleep group than the exercise group although not statistically significant.
Both groups lost fat mass, but the exercise + sleep group lost significantly more than the exercise group and both groups experienced a reduction in body-fat percentage, but the reduction in the exercise + sleep group was significantly larger than the reduction in the exercise group.
The sleep literature continues to suggest that insufficient sleep is disadvantageous for people who are trying to improve their physique or performance. It seems like 8-10 hours is probably the ideal range for people with such goals, and it seems like some pretty simple sleep hygiene habits can increase your likelihood of obtaining enough high-quality sleep to support your goals.
This study has some notable limitations that prevent us from drawing rock-solid conclusions from this paper alone. However, the results fit in well with the broader body of literature, and the intervention they used seems like a great starting point for people who are looking for some simple, straightforward guidelines to improve their sleep habits.
Simply improving your sleep routine and habits appears to have a positive impact on your overall body composition!