Sleep Like A Vampire & Lose Weight!

A woman adjusting a standing scale and smiling

Do you find yourself constantly fatigued and devoid of energy? Are you in a constant battle to lose that extra 10+ pounds? Have you experienced plateaus in developing muscle mass?

Well, one change that may help is simply getting more…sleep.

A lack of sleep can give your body a one-two punch:

More eating: Some research has shown that a lack of adequate sleep may cause you to eat more high calorie, high carb, and/ or high fat foods the following day. Those who consistently get an inadequate amount of sleep have been shown to consume 300 calories per day more than those who get 7-8 hours of sleep.

Less lean muscle mass: Muscle plays an important role in burning calories. The pituitary gland , located at the base of the brain, produces growth hormone needed for muscle mass. The production of this hormone mostly occurs during sleep. If you are not getting adequate sleep, your body isn’t producing the optimal amount of growth hormone. This can lead to less than optimal muscle mass. The lack of muscle mass can effect your body’s ability to burn calories.

So, to assist in getting more high quality sleep, sleep like a vampire! Whether “Bram Stoker’s Dracula”, “The Lost Boys”, “True Blood”, or “Blacula”, they all:

. Sleep in the dark: Your room should be completely dark. Curtains should be drawn shut. TVs, cell phones, laptops should be shut off to reduce the amount of light ( and sounds) in the room. The light from an analog clock could also disrupt your sleep. I’ve gone back to using the traditional alarm clock to reduce the amount of light in the room during sleep. The glow from TVs, cell phones, laptops, analog clocks and other similar items can disrupt melatonin, a hormone that helps control your sleep and wake cycles.

. Sleep in cool temperatures: Keep your room at a cool temperature. Approximately 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit. This lowers your core body temperature and can assist in better sleep. Too cool for you? Wearing socks to bed may help.

There also may be medical reasons for inadequate sleep. I would suggest checking with your doctor to test for sleep apnea, a chronic sleeping disorder.

So get some shut-eye. It can assist with weight loss, muscle growth, and give you the energy you desire.

See additional tips on how to improve sleep, and other nutritional and fitness advice, in my book, Body Under Construction.

By Sloan Luckie, BDO Fitness Expert

Sloan Luckie, a Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Public Accountant, is the author of the optimal health workbook, Body Under Construction. Body Under Construction shows how to use nutrition, exercise and sleep to build the body of your dreams, reduce your risk to chronic illness and look and feel your absolute best.

His unique philosophy on building and maintaining optimal health has garnered significant media attention. Sloan has appeared on NBC’s “The Talk” with Marion Brooks, NY1 News with Cheryl Wills, graced the pages of Syd Jerome magazine, and conducted nutrition and fitness demonstrations for corporations, not-for-profit organizations, and various other groups throughout the United States.


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9 Fitness Rules That Experts Ignore

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Are you sure your workout strategy is really working for you?

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Fitness researchers have release thousands of studies that challenge conventional workout methods–or at least shed light on ways to tweak it.

Here are a nine outdated fitness approaches, and some tips that will really help you get leaner, faster…

Position your hands shoulder-width apart…

You often see this in instructions for upper-body moves like bench presses and lat pulldowns. Why? Because it gives you a stable starting point. But that doesn’t mean you need to stay there set after set.

“Spreading your hands a few inches farther out stresses more of the inner portion of your biceps; bringing your hands in a few inches builds more of the outer part,” says New York City personal trainer Steve Lischin, M.S. Switch up your position after every set for balanced strength and overall tone.

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Do lots of crunches for a flat belly…

Turns out Pilates abdominal moves are superior to crunches for sculpting your midsection and uncovering those abs, according to a study at Auburn University Montgomery in Alabama. An exercise called “the teaser” is especially effective. It activates 39 percent more of your rectus abdominus muscle (that’s your six-pack) and 266 percent more of your external obliques (your love handles).

The right moves: Lie face-up on a mat. Lift your legs so your thighs are perpendicular to the floor and your knees are bent 90 degrees. Raise your hands toward the ceiling. Lift your torso and straighten your legs, so your body forms a V. Hold for one second, then roll back down, keeping your legs raised. Do 8 to 10 reps.

Squats = a perfect butt

To flaunt that sexy bikini bottom by your when-will-winter-end beach getaway, try doing hip extensions instead of squats. The move hits 55 percent more of your hamstring muscle and 79 percent more of your glute muscle, according to a study by the American Council on Exercise.

The right moves: Get on your hands and knees. Keeping your knees bent, lift your right heel toward the ceiling, then lower it back down to the starting position. Do 12 reps, then repeat on the other side.

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Eat lots of extra protein for less jiggle and more tone

While it’s true that protein is a vital muscle food, your body can use only so much of it. “Any extra protein calories you take in will be stored as fat,” says Molly Morgan, R.D., owner of Creative Nutrition Solutions in Vestal, New York. “As a general rule, remember that 20 percent of your calories should come from protein.”

So if you’re eating an 1,800-calorie diet, try to shoot for a maximum of 360 calories, or 90 grams, of protein each day. Low-fat milk and cheese, broccoli, and chicken are all good sources of lean protein.

Up-down-up-down. Repeat.

Instead of raising and lowering a weight (or your body weight) in one continuous motion, pause for a second about halfway up, continue the movement, then pause again about halfway down.

“In a set of eight to 12 repetitions, you’ll add only an extra 16 to 24 seconds to each set, but you’ll exhaust your muscles,” Lischin says. Translation: You’ll fry more fat without sucking much more time out of your schedule.

Watch yourself in the mirror while you work out

While the occasional glance at your reflection to check form is a good idea, for exercises that involve balance, such as the one-legged squat, you’ll get a bigger boost if you face away from the mirror and close one eye. Doing so activates neural pathways between your brain and your muscles that you don’t otherwise use.

“That forces your body to establish better balance,” says Carter Hays, C.S.C.S., a speed and strength coach at D1 Sports Training and Therapy in Franklin, Tennessee.

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Rest between sets

“Less rest increases your calorie burn and adds a cardio component to strength training,” says New York City personal trainer Lindsay Dunlap, N.A.S.M.

Try supersets: two exercises performed back to back. For example, you might do a set of pushups immediately followed by a set of seated cable rows, then rest a minute before repeating.

Weigh yourself daily for motivation

The scale measures water and muscle, too. It’s not a great indicator of fat loss. For a better–and more, um, hands-on–progress report, place your fingers on your belly and inhale deeply so that it expands. As you exhale, contract your abdominal muscles and push your fingertips against your hard abdominal wall. Now pinch.

“You’re holding pure fat,” says Tom Seabourne, Ph.D., author of Athletic Abs. Do this every day, 30 minutes before your workout, and you’ll find that you rarely decide to skip a session.