If you want to build a foundation of good health, then you need to get enough good quality sleep. Full stop.
You don’t want to be one of those people that spends so much of their time and money on nutrition books, exercise plans, healthy food, and a gym membership – but then refuses to give sleep even the slightest bit of attention until the next morning when they feel so deprived of it.
Here are 10 good reasons why sleep is so important:
- Poor sleep can make you fat and weight loss harder. Short sleep duration is associated with a drastically increased risk of weight gain and obesity, in both children and adults.
- Good sleepers tend to eat fewer calories. Poor sleep affects hormones that regulate appetite. Those who get adequate sleep tend to eat fewer calories than those who don’t.
- Good sleep can improve concentration and productivity. Good sleep can maximize problem solving skills and enhance memory. Poor sleep has been shown to impair brain function.
- Good sleep can maximize athletic performance. Longer sleep has been shown to improve many aspects of athletic and physical performance.
- Poor sleepers have a greater risk of heart disease and stroke. Sleeping less than 7-8 hours per night is linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Sleep affects glucose metabolism and Type 2 Diabetes risk. Sleep deprivation can cause pre-diabetes in healthy adults, in as little as 6 days. Many studies show a strong link between short sleep duration and type 2 diabetes risk.
- Poor sleep is linked to depression. Poor sleeping patterns are strongly linked to depression, particularly for those with a sleeping disorder.
- Sleep improves your immune function. Getting at least 8 hours of sleep can improve immune function and make you 3 times less likely to develop a cold.
- Poor sleep is linked to increased inflammation. Sleep affects the body’s inflammatory responses. Poor sleep is strongly linked to inflammatory bowel diseases and can increase the risk of disease recurrence.
- Sleep affects emotions and social interactions. Sleep loss reduces our ability to interact socially and recognize various expressions of anger, happiness, and important social cues.
If you would like to read more in-depth about the above points and review the science behind them, you can visit this article by Authority Nutrition.
5 Tips to improve your sleep:
- Develop a consistent sleep routine. This means waking up at the same time every morning (avoid the snooze button) and get into bed with the intention of going to sleep at the same time every night. There are all sorts of great sleep hacks out there for better sleep, but without this most fundamental habit they are pretty useless.
- Avoid caffeine in the late afternoon / evening. The quality of your sleep is just as important (if not more) at the quantity of your sleep. Caffeine negatively affects the quality of your sleep, even if you feel like you can still get to sleep with ease. Some people tolerate caffeine well and metabolize it quickly while others are the complete opposite. Play around with a cut-off time for your caffeine consumption, somewhere between 1pm and 4pm. Keep in mind caffeine can also be found in certain teas, soft drinks, energy drinks, pre-workouts, health supplements, and so on.
- Keep alcohol intake low (ideally none). Just like caffeine, alcohol can impair the quality of your sleep – even if it feels like it relaxes you and makes it easier to get to sleep. You won’t get much deep restorative sleep that is so important for good health.
- Control the room temperature. Our body temperature naturally lowers when it becomes time to go to bed, but sometimes it can’t quite get cool enough. A room temperature of between 19-22 degrees celsius is recommended for the best sleep.
- Make your room as dark as possible. Our brains interpret light (particularly blue light), to mean it’s day time so it suppresses the hormone melatonin production that we need for deep sleep and the regulation of our metabolism. Cover up power plug or electronic device lights, block out street lights with blinds or thick curtains, and turn off the bathroom light that might be shining down the passageway or under the door.
PLUS 2 Bonus tips
- Avoid all electronic screens (TVs, computers, phones, tablets, etc) at least 30 minutes, but ideally 2 hours, before bed for improved sleep quality.
- Download a PC/Mac application called “f.lux” over here. It makes the color of your computer’s display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day. It’s even possible that you’re staying up too late because of your computer.
The above 5 points are a great start. Implement them for 2 weeks and you will find your sleeping experienced absolutely transformed for the better.
However, if you are serious about improving your sleep once and for all then below you will find my top sources of sleep improvement techniques. I used to be a chronic insomniac that absolutely dreaded bed time – but not anymore and you can change too!
- [Authority Nutrition] How blocking blue light at night can transform your sleep
- [Precision Nutrition] Hacking sleep: Engineering a high-quality, restful night
- [Mark Sisson] How to manufacture the best night of sleep in your life
Sleep (and eat, move, think) better with our 30-Day Healthy Habits Challenge:
Sleekgeek’s 30-Day Healthy Habits Challenge is here to help you do at least one thing good for your health, every single day.
Each day for the next 30 days, we will give you one healthy habit to complete to help you eat, move, think, or sleep better – simple tools to help you live a healthier and happier life.
We will also give you full step-by-step instructions on how to perform each task and give options to help you make it easier or harder so that even absolute beginners and more experienced Sleekgeeks can take part.
Track your sleep
If you want to track your sleep and become a guru you can do that with various health activity trackers. Many of these devices can provide data on how many times you wake up. Your deep sleep, REM and more. You can do it with the Jawbone, the MOOV NOW and many other devices. The great news is that thanks to our partners you can get 10% Off any of these devices using the code “sleekgeek10%” at the www.quantifi.co.za online store.
What do you struggle with the most when it comes to sleep?
Let me know in the comments and I’ll see if I can help!