How many hours of sleep do you average per night? If it’s less than 7, you’re probably not doing your brain and body any favours by staying up late checking everyone’s updates on Facebook and Twitter.
Some of us wear lack of sleep like a badge of honour. With quotes such as “I was up half the night working on that presentation.” ,“I went to an all nighter bar/club and didn’t get in till 4pm and up this morning at 6am but I feel ok.”! If we don’t proudly declare poor or inadequate sleep, we accept it as a product of our busy lives. I’m personally guilty of all the above, especially during my time in the army, and if I’m honest it sucks. My question is why would you want to feel ok when you could feel “AWESOME”, and the truth is that you need good sleep.
I hear you ask why is getting adequate sleep is so important?
Balancing your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, and getting adequate rest at night, are just as important as taking the right presentation to your meeting or dressing the kids for school. Maybe even more important – since creating the right internal environment for growth is an essential part of any muscle-building or fatloss process. You need to start believing that good sleep is not a luxury, but a necessity.
Getting at least 7 hours of sleep will help your body recover from your workouts, rejuvenate your brain, and improve your overall lifestyle. Getting less than 7 hours can slow muscle growth and reduce brain power making us less productive at work and causing accidents to others and ourself both in the work place and at home. Plus it turns us into grumpy individuals who are no fun to be around.
When we sleep, we “restore” our bodies. That’s because sleep stimulates the growth and rejuvenation of the immune, nervous, skeletal, and muscular systems. When we don’t get enough sleep, we can’t properly control our glucose and insulin levels. This means body fat and blood sugar problems and eventual obesity and type 2 diabetes occurs. Also, sleep improves our memory formation and operations. We also think and learn better when well-rested. While different people function best with different amounts of sleep each night, less people thrive with fewer than 7 hours per night.
When your body doesn’t get enough sleep, your muscles don’t have enough time to fully recover from the day’s workout. I have experienced this on occasions when I have to wake up at night to check on my daughter when ill, making my training performance lacklust as best. Also, staying awake beyond midnight seems to increase the likelihood of gaining fat. These associations have a “dose-response” relationship: The later your bedtime and the shorter your sleep hours, the more body fat you gain and the less muscle you build.
Not only does sleep deprivation mess up your metabolism, but many people find that late night is the perfect time for a unhealthy snack, and that it also leads to over eating the next day because our hormones (such as Leptin and Ghrelin) are out of sink along with our cortisol levels. Finally, abnormal circadian rhythms have also been associated with depression, bipolar disorder and seasonal affective disorder. A final, but important note about sleep, is that inadequate sleep also disrupts your anabolic hormones and can lead to cardiovascular problems and more – but let’s focus on the most important message here.
You need good, regular sleep with a good sleep routine. Sure, we live in a busy world. But we don’t have to be victims. While we have more opportunities to do things other than sleep — on demand TV (another reason why you shouldn’t stay up late), fiber optic Internet services, email at the touch of a button, extended work shifts, family commitments, and more at the end of the day, most of the time we choose what we do. A lack of sleep usually reflects our priorities rather than real constraints. That’s great news, because we can do something about it.