Today’s post is all about the awesomeness of sleep! That magical time where you get to relax, dream, and recover from those stressful work days. But for many of us, it seems like there is simply not enough time in the day to fit sleep in! That’s why I wanted to go over the importance of sleep, what it can do for you, and a few tips on how to get more without hitting that snooze button.
Sleep is an entire field of scientific research and is not completely understood. So naturally I am going to do an awesome job briefly summing things up. In any case, sleep is regulated by two body systems: sleep/wake homeostasis and the circadian biological clock. Sleep/wake homeostasis tells us that a need for sleep is building up and gets us feeling sleepy while also helping us maintain enough sleep throughout the night. It’s the mechanism used to balance sleep and wakefulness. Our circadian rhythm regulates the timing of sleepiness and wakefulness throughout the day. It’s a pattern of being awake and asleep that we can regulate. If you have ever woken up early on the weekend even though you wanted to sleep in, it’s because of your circadian rhythm. While we sleep, our body goes trough a cycle every 90 minutes as a way to recover and repair itself. Most people need 7-8 hours of sleep per night to sufficiently recover, but everyone is different. Some individuals may only need 5 hours, where others may require more than 10.
Sleep To Get Shredded!
Let’s dig into the fun stuff! Sleep is crucial for so many reasons, but trying to stay healthy, lose weight, and get in shape without it can be a nightmare! We know that without proper sleep we will be more susceptible to decreased glucose tolerance, illness, elevated cortisol concentrations, increased cholesterol, decrease in the satiety hormone leptin, increased the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin, and increased hunger and appetite (1)! What’s also interesting is that you can have a decreased glucose tolerance, and be more susceptible to type 2 Diabetes, if you have too much sleep as well (2).
If you’re looking to lose weight, sleeping enough is a must. Not logging enough sleep can decrease your metabolism and give you the munchies (3,4). Getting quality sleep is also important for building muscle. This is because adequate sleep is needed to optimize your natural growth hormones (5). Not only that, but it can suck the life out of your gym performance by decreasing your motivation and efficiency of cognitive processes, increasing perceived effort, and limiting physiological recovery responses (6).
How to Get Better Sleep
By now you realize the you need to sleep a lot, but you also need to sleep well. Quality sleep is crucial for achieving the 90 minute cycle throughout the night. So here are a few tips on how to get more sleep and with greater quality. First up, avoid the booz. Alcohol can have a deleterious effect on sleep in many ways but a few highlights include making you go to the bathroom more, making you sweat, playing with your blood sugar, and decreasing the amount of REM you get. Next, get out of the bedroom. The bedroom is a place for maximizing mental and physical recovery, so using it as a work or play space throughout the day can actually decrease the amount of quality rest you get in there at night. Limit the amount of stimulants in your life including nutritional and environmental. This means cutting back on caffeine (especially after 4 pm), nicotine, computer, cell phone, T.V., and possibly using blackout curtains to block light that can keep your brain active. Finally, exercise is your friend! Resistance training is a great way to help you sleep. So for those of you who struggle to fall asleep, work out earlier in the morning, whereas those of you who struggle to stay asleep should try evening strength training sessions (7). When it comes to health and fitness, your immune system, and brain power sleep is paramount. So get some rest!
1. Tremblay, A., & Chaput, J.-P. (2010). Sleep and Metabolic Fitness. Sleep,33(7), 861.
2. Cappuccio, F. P., D’Elia, L., Strazzullo, P., & Miller, M. A. (2010). Quantity and quality of sleep and incidence of type 2 diabetes: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Diabetes Care, 33(2), 414-420. doi:10.2337/dc09-1124
3. S. Sharma., & M. Kavuru (2010). Sleep and Metabolism: An Overview. Int J Endocrinol. Volume 2010, Article ID 270832, 12 pages doi:10.1155/2010/270832
4. Taheri, S. (2006). The link between short sleep duration and obesity: We should recommend more sleep to prevent obesity. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 91(11), 881-884. doi:10.1136/adc.2005.093013
5. Brandenberger, G., & Weibel, L. (2004). The 24‐h growth hormone rhythm in men: Sleep and circadian influences questioned. Journal of Sleep Research, 13(3), 251-255. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2869.2004.00415.x
6. Marshall, G., Turner, A. (2016), The Importance of Sleep for Athletic Performance, Strength & Conditioning Journal 38(1),p 61–67
7. Alley, Jessica R (2015). “Effects of resistance exercise timing on sleep architecture and nocturnal blood pressure”. Journal of strength and conditioning research (1064-8011), 29 (5), p. 1378.