Every year 1 in 4 Americans will develop an acute case of insomnia and have trouble sleeping. Sleep-related conditions are common in our hectic and busy lives, our minds constantly running in loops as we lie down to rest. But sleep is a linchpin for our overall health. Not getting a good night’s sleep results in negative consequences on everything from our workouts to our moods. So if you’re still working on sticking to your new year’s resolutions, focus on enhancing your sleep to have more energy and drive in the mornings to accomplish your goals.
The Right Environment
Your first focus should be to improve your sleep. In a majority of situations, people have trouble sleeping because of their bedding quality. Mattresses, sheets, and pillows are anchors for good sleep — you’ll be using them every night, so investing in good ones is essential. Pick mattresses and pillows that meet your needs. If you sleep on your side, choose pillows optimized for side sleeping. Mattresses are equally important. Purple promises innovation and a scientific product, Nuvana assures a stress-less sleep, and Ecosa was designed for those with back problems. Check out reviews and specifications before you buy, like an Ecosa mattress review, to make sure you’re buying a product with your needs in mind.
How Much Does Sleep Really Matter?
Sleep is very important for our overall health. Studies show that sleep can positively affect depression, tension, anger, and one’s overall satisfaction with life. Sleeping is our body’s way of recharging. If you leave your phone uncharged, you might notice a lack of performance quality: bugs, glitching, and decreased reaction time. The same goes for humans: our bodies require sleep to recharge and sort through all of the data that it took in during the day. It’s overwhelmingly clear that sleep also strengthens your memories and recall ability. With poor sleep, your brain will feel sluggish, unresponsive, unmotivated, and tired. You’ll be sharper, more ambitious, and have more energy with a good night’s sleep.
Sleeping and Your Workouts
But how does sleep affect your prowess in the gym?Sleep is actually essential for muscle growth, studies show. Protein synthesis, the process that builds muscle after a workout, is reduced with poor sleep habits. Bad sleep also decreases degradation pathways, effectively favoring the loss of muscle mass and hindering muscle recovery after exercise. And if you injure yourself working out, or just commuting to and from work, these same conditions affect how quickly your body heals. Sleep, by all means, is a way for your body to recover. And working out is a process of purposely tearing your muscle fibers so that they recover stronger than before. Sleep and working out go hand in hand.
What about cardiovascular exercise? After all, not everyone is lifting weights. Some people prefer treadmills to dumbells. Sleep also has a pronounced effect on heart health. Sleep is linked with cardiovascular health, with better sleep promoting a better resting heart rate and better heart health for strenuous activities, such as running or jogging. Exercise in all forms relies a great deal on sleep to promote recovery.
[Related Reading: 5 Home Based Crossfit Workouts For Effective Fat Loss]
Sleep And Weight Loss
So many people are constantly trying to lose weight and many experience difficulty in accomplishing their goals. Does sleep have any correlation with weight? Well, as stated above, we already know that sleep decreases depression, anger, tension, and increases life satisfaction, all of which have a psychological effect on your motivation and determination. If you’re angered, depressed, or stressed out, the last thing you’ll want to do is exercise or diet. Your mind defaults to pleasurable foods when it’s bummed out, and you obviously want to avoid the fatty, salty, and sweet food that it craves in those times. Getting a good night’s sleep will mentally prepare you to take on your weight loss goals.
What about physiologically? Sleep obviously affects our mental state about weight loss, but just how much of an effect does it have on our physical body? Well, it turns out better sleep leads to a decline in blood glucose (sugar), lower total cholesterol, and contributes to a loss of total lean body mass. In addition, more sleep helped participants feel more satisfied and full than did those with a sleep deficit, which in turn leads to less overeating. Dieting is dependent on sleep quality just as much as working out and exercising are.
Optimize Your Sleep
So you’ve seen that sleep can affect weight loss, weight lifting, cardio exercise, overall health, and mental well-being. So now comes the important question: how much sleep should you be getting to optimize your responses to the above? What’s the magic number that will help you in all of your goals? It turns out that this number varies by age group and individuals in general. Optimal sleep levels in children range from 8-10 hours depending on who you listen to (i.e. Harvard University recommends 9 hours, while the National Sleep Foundation recommends 8.5-9.25).
The same research also shows that the number decreases with age, with adults needing less sleep than children or adolescents. Unfortunately, there’s an overall consensus that there’s no real optimized number for sleep length. Generally, it rests between 6-8 hours, but this varies depending on the individual. The good news is that as long as you get at least six hours a night, you won’t experience any sleep withdrawal symptoms. Aim for whatever number makes you feel energized and awake in the morning, but try for at least six hours to make sure you’re ready for whatever exercise or work you have in your day.
Sleep is a foundation of our everyday health. It’s essential for both our bodies and minds to get the right quantity and quality of sleep. It benefits everything from our overall satisfaction with life, to how much energy we have, to how effective our bodies will build muscles or form memories. As such, you should aim to improve your sleep by investing in quality mattresses and bedding and setting aside enough time to get at least a full six hours. You’ll feel better than you ever have.