Work, Eat, Sleep, Repeat. This is the cycle of our daily life whether we like it or not. In the scarce free time that we have we tend to either try to better ourselves both physically and mentally or just actively rest. And although there are some people who try to break this cycle, for most of us it’s inevitable.
While we already understand the importance of working hard and maintaining a proper diet, many people underestimate the importance of the third component of this cycle – the sleep. Our bodies are temples of balance, and if one part of our maintenance is disturbed, our whole body pays the price. Despite this many people prefer to shorten their sleep and replace it with more meaningful activities, what they forget though is that sleeping is one of the most meaningful activities that we do our entire lives. Sleep is vitally important for us, and you can cause serious damage to your brain and internal organs if you deprive yourself from sleep long enough. The USSR government is said to have made such experiments with political prisoners in the late 1950s’ and the results were disturbing to say the least. Regardless if this stories of experimentation are true, sleep is the most important part of every animal’s’ life. After all, all animals sleep.
Probably the most important bonuses of sleeping are it’s benefits to your body. There are a lot of people who love to sleep in and it seems that they will sleep through the whole day if they are not forced to wake up. You shouldn’t wake them up though and should envy them, because while they are asleep their body has the time to work hard on itself. The benefits can be seen best on people, who go to fitness. When you go to the fitness, follow a strict diet and even take the best supplements on the market you expect to have outstanding results. Yet your friend who also exercises with you, but cheats on his diet and takes the protein, he found in the bargain bin in the local store, seems to have better progress than you. The only difference between you to is that while you’re staying awake to watch Game of Thrones or some other hot new series, or you play your favorite game, your friend is doing the most important part of the cycle – sleeping. Sleeping is the most important component of the exercise, since this is the time, when your muscles have the time to grow, and more importantly – to rest. When it comes to maximizing your muscle growth, well than sleeping at least 8 hours a day is a must.
If you haven’t slept enough your body will be tired even if you feel good, this way you won’t be able to reach your potential and you won’t max out during your exercises. Multiple studies have suggested that people chronically lacking sleep have significantly lower reaction time than well rested subjects. Slower alertness means also lower mental and motor capacity. Another study shows that when people are not well rested they tend to make more often mistakes, and most importantly, they tend to make mistakes in situations they usually are flawless. This means that if you are sleepy and you go to your regular exercise, the chance of you making a mistake, that causes you injury is significantly bigger.
Scientists believe, that when you haven’t had enough sleep your body stops metabolizing glucose, which is the primary source of energy in your body. This means, that whenever you are sleep deprived you won’t have the energy to exercise that you usually have, and your training session will be less productive.
Another important role of the sleep is the hormonal balance which is achieved exactly during this time. While you are asleep your body releases great amounts of testosterone and IGF-1. Testosterone is close related with muscle growth and body repairs, so when you deprive yourself from sleep you are slowing down the production of testosterone. On the other hand while you are asleep levels of muscle breaking hormones are lowered. So when you lack sleep you actually work to prevent your muscle growth, which in terms aids the fatts to take it’s place. If you sleep 8 hours a night you will lose 55% more fat and save 60% more muscle than anyone, who sleeps 5 hours a night. Not to mention that the lack of sleeps promotes the hormone Ghrehlin, which makes you feel hungry, and lowers the levels of Leptin – the hormone that makes you feel full. So the more you sleep, the less hungry you will be. What better way to lose weight than to sleep it off, ah?
The moral of this story is quite obvious – never mess with your sleep. Get enough sleep and for best results do it in the night hours. And one more thing. If you are reading this in the middle of the night don’t finish this story, don’t even finish this sentence! Just go to sleep. Right now. Get your rest.