Is Sleep the Secret to a Healthy Body?

Sleep is something every living being needs and the one thing that humans will intentionally deprive ourselves of. Americans currently get an average of 6.8 hours of sleep per night, and while this average may not seem too bad, it has significantly decreased every year. 

You’ve heard people say it before and I’ve even said it myself, “I can run on 6 hours of sleep”. Some of us wear this as a badge, but it’s simply not true and could severely harm our health. I’m sure you’ve heard the common reasons sleep is important. However, I want to share with you some facts and evidence you may not have heard before, then tell you some ways you can help get that good night’s rest. 

Exercise

There is a close relationship when it comes to sleep and exercise. We know why exercise is important, but to gain all the benefits from exercise we MUST sleep. Our bodies recover when we sleep, not when we’re sitting on the couch watching Netflix. Adaptations to muscle growth/repair, bone density, and energy happens during sleep. 

Immune System

We all have thousands of cells within our immune system that help battle illnesses, diseases, and infections daily. Professor Matthew Walker has studied sleep and its effects on our mental and physical health for years. During one of his TED Talks, he discusses an experiment in which they deprived a group of people 4 hours of sleep for just ONE night. Their results showed a 70% decrease in immune cell activity the following day. A lack of sleep makes us more susceptible sicknesses daily. 

Diet

Sleep affects two hormones: leptin and ghrelin. These hormones are basically your hunger hormones, they tell you when you need to eat and when you are full. When we are sleep deprived, these hormones are thrown off balance and won’t tell you when you’re full. You’re also more likely to make worse food choices throughout the day. A University of Chicago study found that dieters who were well rested lost more fat tissue compared to dieters who were more sleep deprived. 

What Can You Do?

Life is busy and there will always be things that keep us from getting enough sleep; kids, work, school, and other outside distractions. Here are some tips to help you get the rest your body and mind needs. Don’t look at any electronic devices an hour before bedtime because phones and TV stimulate our brain. Let your mind relax before you go to bed. Keep your room 65°-68° degrees. Your body temperature must drop 2°-3° for you to fall and stay asleep. It’s much easier to stay asleep in a cool room than a hot one. In addition to these tips, try going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. This is the most difficult one, but just like exercise, a good night’s sleep needs to become a part of your daily routine.

Our bodies love regulation and routine. Be more aware, be more intentional, and take advantage of the nights when you can get the rest that you deserve. Sweet dreams!

Article written by Morgan Beck – Personal Fitness Trainer