Getting Enough Sleep – Introduction
How do the benefits of sleep help you improve your mental and physical fitness?
The importance of sleep for body transformation cannot be overstated.
Sufficient sleep plays a critical role in every aspect of your health and fitness.
It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to build muscle, burn fat, improve your cardiovascular endurance, or optimize your mental and physical health; experts agree that getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night is a must.¹
Unfortunately, the human body is amazingly adaptive and can get by on far less than the recommended amount of sleep.
However, just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you should.
You’ll feel and perform far better if you prioritize getting enough sleep.
This article reveals the top ten benefits of sleep for improving your health and fitness.
The Top 10 Benefits of Sleep
Do you lack the motivation needed to go to bed early?
Do you treat sleep as a luxury rather than a priority?
Are you one of those people who say, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” and actually mean it?!
Why is it important to get enough sleep each night?
Chronic sleep deprivation can make getting fit and losing weight far harder than they need to be.
It’s also bad for your general health and well-being.
But get 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night, and you’ll experience these benefits!
#1. More energy
Your body is like a rechargeable battery.
The mental and physical activity of your day drains your body of resources, but nutritious food and good sleep replenish them.
A lot of people complain they lack energy and consume energy drinks and coffee by the bucketload to get them through the day.
However, caffeine, etc., only addresses the symptom, not the cause of a lack of energy.
Getting more sleep means more time for rest and recovery.
Your energy levels will naturally increase when you go from being sleep deprived to getting 7-9 hours per night.
#2. Better recovery from workouts
There is a constant battle in your body between breaking down and building up or, more accurately, catabolism and anabolism.
The activities of the day are primarily catabolic, while your body is mainly anabolic when you sleep.
Anabolism is when your body gets busy with muscle repair and growth.
Levels of anabolic hormones, including testosterone and growth hormone, increase during this time.
It stands to reason that too little sleep means less time in the “anabolic zone” and, therefore, less recovery between workouts.
#3. More willpower and motivation
You need to do it on a regular basis for any workout or diet to be effective.
In fact, even a substandard workout or eating plan can still produce half-decent results if you do it regularly enough.
Unfortunately, lack of sleep can make it harder to stick to your diet and workout.
It erodes your willpower and motivation, so you end up missing workouts instead of hitting the gym or reaching for high-energy junk food when you should be eating healthy.
Getting enough sleep will make you more inclined to exercise regularly and eat right.
#4. Easier weight loss
Sleep boosts your energy, and being sleep-deprived can leave your body looking for alternative sources of energy.
This can take the form of caffeine but is just as likely to be fast-acting carbs and sugar.
Needless to say, unplanned snacks and low-quality foods will not help you on your weight loss journey and will probably impede your progress.
Getting a good night’s rest will help stabilize your energy levels and reduce refined carb and sugar cravings that inevitably lead to weight gain.
#5. More stable appetite
Losing weight invariably means eating less, which is often easier said than done.
Eating less means you need to control your appetite and resist hunger pangs.
While most people can ignore hunger for a few hours or a day or two, eventually, it will erode your willpower, and you’ll break your diet.
You can reduce the frequency and severity of hunger pangs by getting more sleep.
Sleep helps regulate your appetite hormones – leptin and ghrelin.
Leptin is produced by your stomach to signal that you are full, so it’s also known as the satiety hormone.
In contrast, ghrelin is the hormone responsible for stimulating your appetite.
Too little sleep has been shown to suppress leptin and increase ghrelin, creating the perfect storm for hunger and overeating.
#6. Better workouts, better results
While any workout is preferable to no workout, merely going through the motions because you are chronically tired will affect your results.
Whether we’re talking about running to boost your fitness or lifting weights to build muscle and strength, you’ll be able to train harder, longer, and more often if you get adequate sleep each night.
The occasional sleepless night is not an issue, and a shot of pre-workout or espresso will help you power through.
However, chronic sleep deprivation will undermine your workouts, and your progress will suffer.
#7. Decreased inflammation
Intense exercise can leave you feeling sore for days.
Delayed muscle soreness, joint aches, and pains are often part and parcel of an active lifestyle.
However, getting enough sleep can help reduce levels of inflammation, leading to less pain and faster recovery from minor injuries.
Getting enough sleep lowers inflammatory markers and gives your body the time it needs to calm and repair the causes of many general aches and pains.
So, if you have chronic joint problems, such as tendonitis in your elbows or shoulders, getting more sleep could help relieve your pain.
#8. Improved immunity
A lack of sleep can impair immunity, making you more prone to many diseases.
For example, getting enough sleep could mean you catch things like colds and the flu less often and can fight them off more easily.
Given the prevalence and severity of some cardiorespiratory disorders, getting more sleep could be an important step toward reducing their impact and speeding up your recovery.
It’s no coincidence that people want to go to bed and sleep more when they feel unwell.
#9. Better mental health
Feeling tired and lethargic is enough to give anyone the blues.
When you wake up feeling tired, you likely know that things can only go downhill from there.
The idea of work is depressing, and finding the energy to exercise is out of the question.
It’s no wonder that there is such a strong link between sleep and mental wellbeing.
But waking up after a good night’s sleep, feeling energized and ready to attack the day, will produce a much more positive attitude and mindset.
Instead of dreading the day ahead, you feel fully equipped to face and conquer its challenges.
#10. Reduced risk of accidental death
Insufficient sleep can affect your reaction time, coordination, concentration, and decision-making, increasing your chances of accidents, injury, and even death.
Tiredness is a common cause of automotive and industrial accidents, as well as accidents in the home.
Getting more sleep could save your life and the lives of those around you.
How to Get More Sleep
Sleep is incredibly valuable, and getting enough will affect your mental and physical health, not to mention your workout and diet endeavors.
But how do you get more sleep?
After all, many adults get by on far less than the recommended 7-9 hour sleep duration per night.
Here are four tried-and-tested strategies for getting more sleep:
#1. Have a bedtime
Similar to achieving a healthy weight by having a defined meal schedule, you can reverse your sleep deficit with a simple fix.
While it’s probably been many years since you had a bedtime, you should consider reviving this childhood staple if you know you’re not getting enough sleep.
Work back eight hours from when you have to get up – that’s when you need to be in bed.
Start getting ready for bed 30-60 minutes before this, so you’re relaxed and in bed at the allotted time.
#2. Go to bed at the same time every night, including on weekends
Many people are poor sleepers and need to practice a better sleep routine.
The easiest way to do this is to go to bed at the same time every night, seven days a week.
This will train your body to expect sleep at a specific time.
By all means, sleep in at weekends, but resist the urge to stay up much later than usual.
Remember the old saying: practice makes perfect.
This applies to breaking your bad sleep habits as well as any other skill.
#3. Dim the lights at night, get a fix of bright light in the morning
Your natural sleep/wake cycle is called your circadian rhythm and is regulated by exposure to light.
You should naturally wake up when the sun rises and feel sleepy when it sets.
Of course, because of electric lights, we no longer have to live our days according to the sun’s rising and setting, which can mess with your ability to sleep.
Reset your circadian rhythm by dimming the lights in your home an hour or so before bedtime and then, on waking, exposing yourself to bright, preferably natural, light as soon as possible.
#4. Develop a pre-sleep ritual
Doing the same things every night can help prepare your body and tell it that it’s time to sleep.
For example, a warm bath and reading in bed while drinking a cup of warm chamomile tea could be the perfect pre-sleep ritual that brings you to dreamland.
Develop your own pre-sleep ritual to help ready your body for sleep.
This will probably take some trial and error, but once you have figured out what works, try to use it every night, even if you are traveling.
Benefits of Sleep – Wrapping Up
It’s quite ironic that one of the best things you can do for your overall health is also one of the easiest.
And yet, so many people are chronically sleep deprived.
They say they’re too busy to sleep but have no problem finding the time to watch endless Netflix shows or catch up on their social media – #can’t sleep.
Getting more sleep is often a question of having the discipline to go to bed earlier.
This invariably causes some issues because, as adults, we aren’t used to having a bedtime.
Instead, you might stay up longer than you should simply because you can.
So, bring back bedtime and make sure you’re in bed with plenty of time to get 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
Yes, this will take some adjustments, and you may need to reorganize your evenings.
Still, your waking hours will be much healthier and more productive as a result.
After a few weeks of sleeping more, you’ll wonder how (and why) you ever managed to get by on less than 7-9 hours per night.
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