At some point in our society, we began to place a badge of honour on getting next to no sleep. We rise early, we stay up late. We prioritise nutrition and training but not sleep. We work hard, we play hard but we don't rest hard.
Sleep is the time when our body goes into rest and repair mode. We need sleep to allow our bodies the time to restore, grow muscles, synthesise hormones and repair tissues. Our cells do a clean up process, our digestive system takes a break, our immune system gets a boost.
So what happens if we don't get enough sleep? Rats that are totally deprived of sleep die within 2-3 weeks so..... The Journal of Neuroscience found that a mere 24 hours of sleep deprivation caused healthy people to have hallucinations and other schizophrenia-like symptoms. Lack of sleep can negatively affect memory, cognition and our decision making process. Other studies have demonstrated that sleeping only 4 hours a night for as little as 6 nights can result in blood glucose tolerance typical of a diabetic. When we are tired we also tend to rely on sugary and high carbohydrate foods, coffee and other stimulants to help us push through the day.
Sleeping 7-9 hours per night can support heart health, protect against cancer, reduce stress, reduce inflammation, support memory, assist weight loss, reduce risks of depression, support your immune system and allow your body to repair properly.
For those who are trying to optimise body composition, sleep is of the essence. A study in 2010 showed that cutting back on sleep compromised fat loss in those dieting by up to 55%. It found that 'when sleep was restricted, dieters produced higher levels of ghrelin, a hormone that triggers hunger and reduces energy expenditure.'
Dr Peter Attia has a few amazing podcast episodes on sleep that are absolutely fascinating. He is very convincing in his presentation of the evidence to support getting more sleep. If you are not yet converted to the idea of prioritising a few more Zzz's then we highly recommend having a listen. You can find them HERE.
Rest up heroes.