That’s right you heard it here, there is a fitness panacea on the market today. You have access to it immediately, and the best part? It is absolutely free. You actually probably already take it, just not in the proper clinical dosage. I’m talking about SLEEP. You know, that thing you do every night and then somehow want more of throughout the day because even though we know how much we need, we never actually partake in it?
Since I know I’m covering old information you all have probably heard before, this won’t be as long as our installment last week, but I want to dedicate these next 3 blogs to each part of what was touched on last week- Sleep, Nutrition, and Stress. They are all pretty intermingled and it’s possible to ramble about each, but let’s get a little more specific about sleep today.
First of all, if you could put sleep in a capsule, it would immediately be banned as a Performance Enhancing Drug (P.E.D.), plain and simple. If I could bottle sleep I would be a billionaire tomorrow. It’s that great, it’s that important. The effects that sleep in the proper dosage (a minimum of 7hr/night but up to 10hr/night being necessary for adults) has on our hormones, our bodily functions, and our mental state, are so profound that not only are you not helping yourself by staying up late, but you’re actually partaking in self-harm on a regular basis. So let’s get into what you stand to gain and lose, we’ll stay surface level for today, nobody has time to read the studies, but if you’re interested I will link them at the end of this for the nerds out there.
The benefits of a proper night’s sleep and adequate full cycle (all 5 stages of sleep) are as follows:
-Increased cognitive function
-Increased Serum HGH (Human Growth Hormone)
-Increased Serum Testosterone
-Improved metabolic state Detriments of poor sleep habits are as follows:
-Decreased basal metabolic rate -Increased cortisol levels -Elevated risk for injury
-Increased risk of cardiovascular disease/episode
-Increased stress level
-Increased risk of cancer
-Decreased testosterone and possible infertility in men
-Increased body fat percentage
So what’s that all mean? In short, if you are looking to improve your body composition and physique/strength i.e. – gain muscle, lose fat; we are looking at an absolute gold mine in terms of hormone production; testosterone and HGH being the two most responsible for those functions in the body. Believe it or not, we burn an INCREDIBLE amount of calories when sleeping due to brain function alone. Staying up to finish work or getting up early to workout may seem highly productive, but in a lot of cases you would be much better off getting to bed. As Stan Efferding put it “If you are waking up at 5:00am to do cardio after sleeping for 6 hours, you are stepping over $100 bills to pick up nickels”
In terms of the quality of sleep we are getting, we have to ensure that is on par with the quantity. Put the phone away, turn the TV off, take a minute to relax. One of the studies I have linked (along with multiple others) suggests a direct relationship between exposure to blue light and a decrease in serum melatonin levels and increased cancer risk, not awesome stuff. Limit your time in front of electronics, set a bed time, and try to stick to it. Personally, what I’ve found is that the stuff I stay up for or get up early for and lose sleep, are almost never worth it, and can wait. If you have kids, realize they need more sleep than adults (infants up to 11 hours), they may not stick to it consistently, but while we’re starting up some new healthy and sustainable habits, why not get them on the same schedule and similar* diet. *Children have different energy needs but will absolutely benefit from a diet consisting of whole foods. Now get some sleep!
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