Many people view sleep as a luxury, when in fact it is a non-negotiable fundamental biological system that has an effect on many aspects of an individual's’ life. In terms of recovery, your body needs sleep to produce growth hormones through protein synthesis. Here are a few benefits that will make you question skipping a full night's’ rest:
1. Helps With Recovery
Sleep is extremely important for performance, development, physical and mental health. Not getting enoguh sleep can lead to poorer performance and decision-making ability, alongside reductions in muscle recovery and immune function. In order to perform our best, not only must we train regularly and eat healthy foods, but also obtaining an adequate aamount of rest to recover is crucial.
2. Improves Memory
Have you ever felt like your memories are a little blurred after a bad night’s rest? When you sleep, your mind is consolidating your memories from the day; in effect storing your memories in the right compartments. There are powerful brain waves taking place during the deepest stages of sleep. When your body doesn’t get enough sleep, memories don’t transport from your short term to long term memory. Sleep enables your brain to hit the save button, when learning and is also needed to prepare your brain to store new information. According to Avelino, Verceles, MD professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and director of the school’s sleep medicine fellowship: “Sleep embeds the things that we have learned and experienced over the course of the day”.
3. Improves Mood
Lack of sleep can have a major effect on your mood. The hormone cortisol, which is the associated with stress, increases when sleep deprivation occurs; which as a result increases anxiety, irritability and low moods. Sleep- deprived people who were questioned by the National Sleep Foundation said they were less likely to exercise, eat healthy, have sex and engage in leisure activity due to fatigue, compared to those who have had a full nights’ rest.
4. Increases Alertness
When you have had a full night’s rest, your body is performing at its optimum level. A good nights’ sleep has been linked to higher levels of concentration, alertness and cognitive function. Sleep deprivation slows your reaction time. This is particularly key when performing mentally strenuous tasks and can be very dangerous when it comes to driving. According to 2009 study conducted by cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point, researchers from the University of Texas In Austin, found that sleep deprivation hindered information-integration. This is a function of the mind that relies on fast reactions and quick decision making.
5. Boosts Immunnity
When your body gets a good nights’ sleep, your immune cells (natural killer cells) and protein cells get renewed and restored; which helps your body repair its cells and build a resistance against free- radical cells. Your body’s natural antibodies are able to perform their function, which is to prevent viral/bacterial outbreaks and cancer. Lack of sleep is linked to various types of cancer. According to the World Health Organization, any kind of night shift work is classified as a “probable carcinogen”.
6. Prevents Weights Gain
Your body naturally adjusts hunger neurotransmitters throughout the day. When you don't get enough sleep your body produces ghrelin, a neurotransmitter that causes the hunger feeling and boosts appetite. Your body also decreases the production of a hormone called leptin, which tells you when you are full. So, in effect, your body thinks it needs to consume more calories than it actually needs.
I urge you to think carefully before skipping a few hours of sleep! An important point to keep in mind, is that the quality of sleep at night is not the same as making up for sleep loss in the daytime. The recommended sleep quantity for each individual is different, many sleep experts recommend 8-10 hours a night. Finding your personal sweet spot is necessary for optimal health. Please consult with a doctor for further guidance. In the meantime, I hope you sleep well!