If you’re like the majority of Americans, you’re neglecting something very important and it’s sabotaging you. (Close your eyes; it’ll come to you… ) Let’s talk about sleep.
It’s easy to neglect sleep. Life is full of demands and it’s so tempting to burn the candle at both ends. Need some motivation to make a change? Here are the top ten reasons you should start prioritizing sleep immediately.
10. You aren’t getting enough. Seven to nine hours a night is considered sufficient for adults, but two-thirds of us aren’t getting that. 30% of us try to “get by” with less than 6 hours a night which has long-lasting health consequences. There are more than 17,000 scientifically-validated studies on the negative effects of being sleep deprived and the benefits of getting enough sleep. The science absolutely applies to YOU.
9. Routinely sleeping an insufficient amount will shorten your life by years, and the quality of the years you do live will be much poorer. If you want to live longer and feel your best while you do, you need to get enough sleep.
8. You cannot pay back sleep debt by binge sleeping on the weekends. The damage to many areas of your health will persist for much longer.
7. Sleeping enough DRAMATICALLY REDUCES your risk of developing Alzheimer’s, type-II diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, cancer and all types of inflammatory disease.
6. You’ll be much less likely to get in a car accident.
Drowsy drivers kill one person per hour in the United States. A larger number of serious accidents are caused by drivers who haven’t slept enough than by drunk and high drivers combined.
5. People who sleep enough are stronger and leaner.
Human growth hormone is released when we sleep so getting adequate sleep means you will build muscle more easily, optimize your body’s ability to repair itself, recover faster and maintain lean body mass more effectively.
Conversely, when you aren’t sleeping enough, your sympathetic nervous system is chronically activated which causes your body to hold onto fat. In fact, one study showed that overweight people who underwent caloric restriction to lose weight while being sleep deprived lost 70% of the weight from lean muscle mass not fat. This is the opposite of what you want!!
4. Well-rested people make healthier food choices. Ghrelin and Leptin are hormones that regulate how hungry or satiated you feel. When you don’t sleep enough, these hormones get out of whack and poor nutritional choices are inevitable. Your body will tell you you’re starving, even if you’ve already consumed a caloric surplus. Studies show that people who haven’t slept enough eat more and choose less nutritious foods, such as those high in calories, simple carbohydrates and salt. This sets you up for a vicious cycle of eating poor quality foods, struggling with the effects of blood sugar spikes and crashes and basically feeling crappy, bloated and lethargic. Beat the cycle before it starts by sleeping enough.
3. Sleep will supercharge your immune system.
You build far more antibodies when you take a vaccine, if you’ve slept well the week before. You are also much less likely to get sick when exposed to cold and flu viruses. If you don’t want that cold or flu everyone seems to be coming down with, make sure you are sleeping!
2. Good sleepers are better learners. Sufficient sleep improves focus, learning ability and memory. “Muscle memory” is also strengthened while you sleep allowing you to master novel movement patterns more quickly. So, it’s not practice makes perfect, but practice plus sleep that makes perfect. Remember that the next time you want to learn a cool kettlebell or mace flow! Your brain won’t master it until it’s had the chance to sleep on it. This is how you lock in your progress.
1. Getting enough sleep makes you the best version of yourself. In addition to all the benefits listed above, getting enough sleep has also been scientifically proven to make you more creative, more productive at work, better in bed*, happier and less anxious.
*Okay, I’ll admit that “better in bed” is subjective and the scientists haven’t proven this per se, but stick with me here and let’s see if I can persuade you that it’s very likely.
Scientists have proven that better sleep makes you more fertile, and optimizes your libido and hormones. Guys who get enough sleep have higher levels of testosterone, healthier sperm production and testicles that are 29% larger than their sleep deprived counterparts. Women who sleep enough produce 20% more follicular-releasing hormone at ovulation and experience fewer abnormal menstrual cycles. As you can see, the sexual and reproductive health benefits of sufficient sleep are crystal clear.
Now, being a fertile Myrtle with a purring sex drive doesn’t automatically make you better in bed, of course. Given that people who sleep well also benefit from improved motor-skill learning, stamina, aerobic output and being better looking—no, REALLY, there was a study!—I think it’s a safe bet, though.
There are no known negative side effects of getting enough sleep and it’s free** and enjoyable. (**I mean, sure, you might need to buy some blackout curtains or a fan or something if you decide to improve your sleep game like a boss.)
If you’d like to know even more, you can read Why We Sleep by Dr. Matthew Walker, a world renowned neuroscientist in the field of sleep. Just don’t stay up too late!!