Why is sleep important?
Here’s 10 great reasons you need to get some zzzzzz’s in.
Sleep is not the cousin of death, and no, you shouldn’t hold off on sleeping until you’re dead, but why is sleep important? Sleep is restoration time. It’s when your body repairs itself and, chances are, you’re not getting nearly enough of it. There’s a reason that sleep deprivation is a torture – because we cannot function properly without it!
How often do you get a ‘good night’s sleep?’ Do you wake up refreshed and ready to take on the day or do you hit snooze, roll over and pray for Sunday again?
If you are like most people you are not getting good, regular sleep. You’re repeatedly hitting snooze, fumbling for a cup of tea, and yawning all day. You’re staying up late to watch TV or you’re taking your phone or laptop into bed.
It wasn’t always like this. For millions of years, up until about a hundred twenty years ago, humans all over the world enjoyed restorative, refreshing, regular sleep. When the sun went down, they either went to sleep or started getting ready for it. Life would wind down. Candles and fire were too costly to burn all night, every night, so nighttime meant bedtime.
Our genes evolved amongst bountiful sleep. Our genes aren’t used to artificial light, television and the Internet keeping us awake and disrupting our natural sleep patterns, so when we get poor sleep or not enough of it, bad things are bound to happen! However, when we get a good night’s sleep – well, your body will reward you!
Here’s my top 10 reasons on why is sleep important.
1. Insulin Sensitivity
Poor sleep habits are strongly linked to adverse affects on blood sugar. Our insulin sensitivity decreases, we reduce our ability to tolerate carbs and burn fat, and this makes it very hard to lose weight. Those sleeping less than 6 hours a night have been repeatedly shown to be at a higher risk of Type 2 diabetes.
2. Mental Health
Sleep quality is a common factor in depression. Those with sleeping disorders report significantly higher rates of depression compared to those without.
3. Hormone Health
The normal secretion of hormones like testosterone (important for general health) growth hormone (burns fat and promotes cellular restoration) takes place while we sleep. Added to this, sleep deprivation messes with the hunger hormone – grehlin and the satiety hormone, leptin. If our appetite signals aren’t working well, our weight cannot be managed.
Then throw the Menopause into the mix and you’ve got a whole new level of issues! (Head over HERE to get my free Hormonal Harmony Guide)
4. Blood Pressure
Lack of sleep causes raised blood pressure and further boosts the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
5. Fat Storage
When we get enough sleep, good things happen. Fat melts off and carbohydrate tolerance increases as the body is less stressed and we have more energy to move more!
6. Exercise Performance
Exercise performance improves. Speed, strength, recovery and response times all increase when the body is well rested. Whether you are an athlete, or brand new/returning to training (this might help if you are), sleep is vital for performance at any level.
7. Immune System
Your immune system works at its best when your body has had sufficient sleep, which improves your resistance to viruses and infections. Even just a small loss of sleep has been shown to impair immune function.
8. Brain Speed!
Sleep is vital for a fully functioning brain. When your brain works better, memory, cognition, productivity and problem solving abilities all improve.
Poor sleep has been linked to inflammatory bowel disease and can increase your risk of disease recurrence. Sleep loss is known to influence inflammations and cell damage.
10. Emotions & Social Interaction
How good are you at interacting with others when you feel tired? It doesn’t take a study (although there are plenty) to know how challenging things can be when you are sleep deprived!
So, sleep is anything but a waste of time, it’s essential. A good night’s sleep is the foundation on which we can build our nutrition, good exercise habits and a healthy mindset. Always aim for around 8 hours (for most people) of quality sleep for optimum health.
Chief Exercise Officer
GO Health and Fitness