The Importance of Sleep


The quality and quantity of sleep you get is crucial to good health and fitness.  There are numerous hormonal activities that occur during the time you are sleeping that help you recover from your day.  When you workout you are tearing down the muscles and taxing the nervous system.  During the time you are sleeping your muscles and nervous system repair and regenerate to be stronger than they were before training.  The body cannot effectively do this when you are awake so sleep is crucial if you want to get the best results you possibly can from training.

Adequate rest is also important for your emotional health.  When you don’t get enough sleep it wreaks havoc on your endocrine system, particularly your adrenal glands which produce cortisol.  Cortisol is the stress hormone.  In the right levels cortisol has many benefits like helping us get up in the morning, countering inflammation and allergies, modulating thyroid function and helping us cope with stress to maintain emotional stability.

Top Tips for Sleep:

1)  Get as many hours before midnight as possible.

2)  Don’t eat a large meal within a couple hours of going to sleep.  A large meal takes a lot of energy to digest which takes your body’s resources away from regenerating and repairing damage.

3)  Don’t keep any electronics near your head or heart.  Put your alarm, phone, etc as far away from where you sleep as possible. 

4)  Make your room as dark and quiet as possible.

5)  Take Magnesium 30 minutes before bed to aid in getting to sleep faster. 

Normally, cortisol is high in the morning, but decreases at night allowing you to go to sleep.  When you don’t get enough sleep your adrenal glands never get a chance to rest and your cortisol levels are high all day and night.  This condition causes adrenal fatigue which leads to a host of physical and emotional health issues some of which include: suppression of the immune system, increasing of insulin resistance which can eventually lead to diabetes, decrease in libido and testosterone production, slower digestion, inability to cope with stress, fatigue, poor memory and excessive anxiety.  Chronically high cortisol levels also cause you to age faster.

The average adult should be getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night depending the individual and the physical and emotional stress they go through during the day.  The key is to get as many hours of sleep before midnight as possible.  Those hours before midnight are when the body does its best work repairing and are so important that research shows that hours before midnight can count as 1.5 hours of sleep to your night’s total.

The environment you sleep in is also very important.  Your bedroom should be as dark and quiet as possible, which helps the body go into REM sleep.  The worst thing you can do is fall asleep with the television on in your room.  The electromagnetic signals from the tv interfere with your own brain waves.  When mixed with the noise and light from the tv you have a situation that will not allow the body to get into REM sleep where it can release large amounts of Human Growth Hormone which repairs tissue and burns fat for other metabolic processes.  That’s right, a lack of sleep will keep you from burning fat!

Try your best to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night.  There is no making up for last night.  The body doesn’t work like that.  If you are getting enough quality sleep your body should naturally wake up when it is ready, so get to sleep early!  If you are regularly sleeping more than 10 hours a day you may want to talk to a doctor because it may be a sign of some type of illness or hormonal imbalance that needs addressing.