Work hard, play hard. Right? That seems to be the motto these days — but it’s one you may want to rethink. In our busy, social media orientated lives, the benefits of a good nights sleep is often underestimated. But do so at your peril. We’ve put together 7 compelling reasons why getting proper rest on a regular basis isn’t just a good idea, it’s an essential one.
1. Improve your memory
When we learn something new, we can get it to a certain level through practice. But it’s when we sleep that the magic really happens. During our night’s sleep, our brain processes our actions throughout the previous day. In other words, you can strengthen memories or “practice” skills learned while you were awake. Sleep is important for various aspects of brain function, including cognition, concentration, productivity and performance. All of these are negatively affected by sleep deprivation. So you can improve your performance just by getting a decent amount of shut-eye!
2. Be a winner
A Stanford University study found that college football players who tried to sleep at least 10 hours a night for seven to eight weeks improved their average sprint time and had less daytime fatigue and more stamina. Going to bed earlier can help too – in a study on basketball players, longer sleep was shown to significantly improve speed, accuracy, reaction times and mental wellbeing. So whether you’re training for an event or just hoping to smash some PB’s at the gym, there may be one simple way to improve your performance: sleep.
Lack of sleep can make you put on weight by drastically slowing your metabolism down, according to a study by scientists at Uppsala University in Sweden. It has been shown that sleep and metabolism are controlled by the same sectors of the brain. When you are sleepy, certain hormones go up in your blood, and those same hormones drive appetite. Researchers at the University of Chicago found that dieters who were well rested lost more fat than those who were sleep deprived, who lost more muscle mass. By cutting short your sleep time, you are effectively disrupting the daily fluctuations in appetite hormones which is believed to cause poor appetite regulation. Studies have shown that sleep-deprived individuals have a bigger appetite and tend to eat more calories. So curb those cravings and get snoozing!
4. Lower your stress
Feeling grumpy after a late night? Sleeping well means more to our overall well-being than simply avoiding irritability. When it comes to our health, stress and sleep are nearly one and the same and both can affect cardiovascular health. Sleep can definitely reduce levels of stress, and with that, you can have better control of your blood pressure. It’s also believed that sleep effects cholesterol levels, which plays a significant role in heart disease.
A lack of sleep can also contribute to depression. A good night’s sleep can help you decrease anxiety and maintain your emotional stability. Yes, sleeping well can actually make you happy!
5. Get Creative!
It seems counterintuitive, but the best way to get your mind working may be to put it to sleep. Researchers at Harvard University and Boston College found that people seem to strengthen the emotional components of a memory during sleep, which may help spur the creative process. In addition to consolidating memories, or making them stronger, your brain appears to reorganise and restructure them, which may result in more creativity as well.
6. Live Longer
Over the long run, the health risks of not catching enough Z’s can be alarmingly similar to consuming harmful substances in large quantities, which is why too little sleep is associated with a shorter lifespan. In one research study adults aged 45 years or older who slept less than six hours a night were 200% more likely to have a heart attack or stroke in their lifetime compared to participants who slept seven or eight hours a night. According to Professor Matthew Walker, Director of the University of California Berkeley’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab, sleep has transformative powers to change our lives for the better. Sleep can also help you look younger by ensuring healthy turnover of cells and can prevent premature hair greying as well.
7. Build your muscles!
If you work out hard and eat well but still find you’re not making the muscle gains you would like, it’s time to take a hard look at your sleep pattern. Contrary to what most people believe, muscle growth doesn’t happen in the gym, but rather while you sleep. Who knew, right? While the gym does provide the stimulus necessary for muscle growth, the actual rebuilding process happens as you sleep. Your brain signals your body to increase testosterone and growth hormone production to facilitate the growth of muscle cells, and all without you having to do another bench press. Amazing.
So all in all, along with nutrition and exercise, good sleep is one of the key pillars of your health. You simply can not achieve optimal health without taking care of your sleep. And here at FUEL10K we are here to help with the mornings too. Set your alarm for 10 minutes later safe in the knowledge that you have time for a good breakfast with our on-the-go breakfast range. Grab your Porridge Pot or Breakfast Drink and GO!