That ‘thing’ we all do every night…sleep, well it turns out it is pretty important. Despite the importance of sleep been recognised for years in the medical world recently in the health and fitness sector sleep has become a topic of conversation. So much so that it has been described as a frontier for sports performance. Athletes now embark on looking at ways to optimise sleep with sleep experts to create good sleep routines and strategies for their “tool-kits” to enhance performances and recovery. Should I be any different from an athlete? NO, you are no different to an elite athlete who needs to perform on the track/field/court. Sleep is critical for your health, well-being and success and optimising sleep will foster a more superior YOU and what’s even better is it's absolutely FREE.
So what does sleep really do? Why is it so important? Sleep has been attributed to having an essential role in human health, vital for physical and cognitive performance and wellbeing. As such, most humans require large amounts of sleep with approximately one-third of human life spent in a state of sleep. During sleep, the brain has a chance to ‘turn off’ and repair at a neurometabolic, somatic and cognitive level. This means when we sleep the nervous system is repairing from our prior wakefulness and fatigue; the body restores tissue, energy, immune and endocrine systems; and cognitively plays a role in memory, learning and synaptic plasticity. By repairing, the sleep process ensures the body is refreshed and prepared for full functioning in the subsequent wake period!
Now we don’t like to focus on the negatives however one way to further demonstrate the importance of sleep is to describe the impact of reduced sleep. Too little sleep is documented to cause: colds, abdominal troubles, difficulty learning (ability to remember and process), irritability and mood swings, headaches, migraines, depleted sex drive, poor vision, weight gain (by disturbing leptin and ghrelin your hunger hormones), reduced focus, determination, vigilance and a range of health problems from heart disease to diabetes.
With those 'summer bodies are built in winter' resolutions in full swing you can see that sleep may become the first domino that generates energy and will-power to topple those most common resolutions of exercise and diet. As remember from above increase sleep decreases weight, increases productivity, increases focus and increases health!
So what do I do? Well, the first step is acknowledging the benefits of sleep and realising the need to prioritise sleep. So put down the laptop late at night and stop that last episode of your favourite show and REMEMBER don’t stay up for something you would not get up early for!!!
EAT - SLEEP - METAFIT :)