Sleep…we all do it, but why is it actually important and how can we make the most of it? During sleep our body gets focusing on repairing all the damaged muscle tissue, which could be from a workout out or just general wear and tear accumulated throughout the day. Sleeping is akin to cleaning the brain as you build up mental ‘plaque’ during the day due to constantly thinking and completing tasks. That’s why, when you have a late night and don’t get enough you are a lot slower and can’t ‘think straight’. Want to use sleep to your best advantage? Read on for Sleep Power: 5 Key Reasons Why You Must Get 7 Hours Per Night!
1. Why Sleep is SO Important!
During sleep your body also focuses on balancing your hormones and releasing growth hormone which helps your body grow and also releases a high level of testosterone, key to repairing and building muscle mass.
It’s important to note that it’s more about quality than quantity. During sleep, you are either in REM or non-REM sleep (REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement). REM is the deeper phase which your body craves and needs in order to be optimally healthy.
2. Sleep is Vital for Peak Mental & Physical Performance
If you go to the gym on less sleep than normal, you will feel much more tired and less alert which is due to your reaction time being slower than normal. People who deprive themselves are more likely to make mistakes which can increase the risk of injury.
It has been shown that you will still possess performance in terms of strength but you won’t be able to complete as many reps as you will get fatigued and get out of breath quicker than usual. The reason for this is that, when sleep deprived, your body is in a sub-efficient state and can’t break down glucose (energy) as well as it normally would.
3. Get the Minimum 7 Hours of Sleep
The body needs a minimum of 7 hours a night to derive maximum physical benefit. A really good amount of sleep if you’re in hard training is 8-9 hours. It’s even better if it’s is uninterrupted as the positive energetic, well-being benefits will be further amplified, and your body far more efficient at performing its vital tasks as well as ordinary ones.
4. Tips for Better Sleep and a Superior Slumber!
- Turning off half the lights in your house and reducing screen time about an hour before bed as light signals the body as a time to be active.
- If you keep tossing and turning in bed, then simply get out of bed and do something in another room or your body may associate your bed with a place to be awake so go away, do a task, then try to get back to sleep again.
- Have a bath right before you go to bed. After the natural heat increase from the bath, your core body temperature gradually drops significantly making you sleepy. Also bear in mind, you’re more likely to fall asleep in a room that’s too cold rather than a room that’s too hot – now we’re not saying to rest in the freezer, just ensure that you sleep in a comfortably heated room!
- The BIGGEST tip is to go to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time, no matter what day it is. Your body will get used to this and will be more far more effective as well as efficient during these hours.
5. How Sleep is Important to Losing Weight
During sleep your body reduces the level of a hormone called cortisol. This promotes the breaking down of muscle tissue and the levels of this hormone remain high if you’re sleep deprived, or (it’s been said) if you sleep through the day and stay awake at night, a factor which is linked to your body clock. (It’s also connected to your circadian rhythm, or your natural, internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle.)
Getting a good night’s sleep results in your body releasing a sufficient amount of growth hormone that in turn helps burn fat and repair muscle. The more muscle you have equates to more calories burned at rest and being well-rested means you’re more likely to be ready for a strong, vigorous gym session and even set a personal best (PB) who knows!
The Work of Dr Matthew Walker
If you want to dive deeper (no pun intended) into the importance of sleep then we suggest looking into the studies and videos of Dr Matthew Walker on YouTube. He is an expert, armed with some incredible facts and evidence that will probably surprise you!
For example, a man that sleeps 4-5 hours a night will have the same level of testosterone as someone 10-years older, so regularly depriving yourself can effectively age you by a decade. He also mentions something similar regarding women and their reproductive systems. Your body needs sleep after learning new techniques or information in order for successful processing, assimilation and integration (psychological osmosis) to take place.
So if you’re learning new exercises, it’s very important to get a good night’s sleep after studying and trying them out. During your slumber, your brain replays the techniques or sequence of movements about 20-times faster than your conscious (waking) mind can. It will then transfer that new knowledge (or technique etc) from your short-term memory to your long-term subconscious memory, just like transferring a file from your computer to your hard drive.