Many of my patients view sleep as a luxury and not a necessity, which could not be farther from the truth! Make sleep just as important as exercising and eating right, because it is just as important if not more important for your health.
Below are my top 10 reasons to make sleep a priority:
Studies have found that a good sleep is necessary for focus and attention. If the brain is not able to reset and relax adequately, this leads to decreased ability to concentrate on the task at hand. Focus is necessary for almost everything, whether this be studying for a test, or driving a car.
Getting quality sleep translates to a better workout because sleep is when your muscles recover and heal themselves. If muscles are not able to rebuild overnight, your muscles are going to have a very hard time becoming stronger. Not only that, if you try to workout after no sleep or a bad sleep, your workout is likely going to feel much harder than normal - which can be very frustrating as well!
Think about how much crankier you are when you don't get a good sleep - it's not your fault! Lack of sleep causes your hormones to go hay-wire, leading to more anxiety and stress in the brain. Sleep deprivation causes anxiety because your brain is not able to shut itself down and reset. It is imperative to get good sleep to prevent anxiety and stress and is why sleep is my number one recommendation to those with anxiety.
The hunger suppressing hormone ghrelin is significantly decreased when you are sleep deprived. This means you are going to be hungrier if you didn't sleep well, making you more likely to overeat. If you are trying to lose weight, you must aim to get a solid 7-9 hours of sleep at night.
When your brain is able to sleep, this means all of your neurotransmitters and hormones are primed and ready to give your mind and body energy to tackle tasks for the day. Think about how much more productive you are when you get a good sleep compared to when you don't get a good sleep.
Research has found that lack of sleep is inflammatory to the entire body. Read more about this here. Inflammation is basically the root cause of almost all disease, and we want to prevent chronic inflammation in every way we can - sleep is a great place to start.
Sleep is when the brain can rest so that we can store information we have learned. According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep causes changes in the brain that makes memories form. Read more about this here from The Division of Sleep Medicine from Harvard Medical School.
When your brain and body are able to fully relax, this allows for energy the following day. A bad sleep or lack of sleep can cause us to feel lethargic and fatigued, which leads to less productivity as discussed above. Some scientists think that we sleep to conserve energy, which we can use for the day - read more about that here.
When you are sleep deprived you are obviously going to feel tired, right? So what do you reach for that is going to give you instant energy? Well, besides coffee :) it's sugar! This is why it can be hard to fight off sugar cravings when you are lacking sleep. Your body craves sugar because it needs that extra boost to function when you are sleep deprived. The problem with sugar (among many others) is that the energy surge is only temporary, and is not long-lasting. This can lead for a need of constant sugar refueling throughout the day.
10. Problem solving
During sleep, different parts of the brain are able to make connections, leading to ideas coming together to form solutions to problems you may be trying to work out. This may be why we tend to wake up with great ideas or solutions to problems after sleeping. Read more about this here from the National Sleep Foundation.