Did you know; For survival, we need sleep more than food?
Sleep is misunderstood. Many people view it as a waste of time, yet almost all of us complain we don’t get enough?
Once something becomes a priority we will always find time for it, so I want to share with you the benefits that sleep has to offer plus some surprising life tricks to maximise the quality of your sleep.
The Benefits of Restorative Sleep;
1. You are more likely to burn fat than muscle – A study done out of the University of Chicago found that dieters who had better quality sleep (i.e. spent more time in the deep sleep phase) lost a higher % of body fat than those with poor quality sleep. This is due to the release of growth hormone. In adults growth hormone regulates our metabolism, blood sugar and other body functions and is only released when we enter stages 3 & 4 of sleep (deep sleep.)
2. Reduce Inflammation – Inflammation is at the root of all physical and mental illnesses. It causes a catalog of hormonal imbalances which untreated will eventually show up as diagnose-able disease. Both a lack of sleep and too much sleep has been show to increase inflammation. The standard 8 hours which is advised isn’t a good goal to aim for as optimal duration will vary depending on age, gender and individual, listen to your body to find your happy medium.
3. Increased Memory & Learning Capabilities – Whilst we sleep our brain is busy consolidating memories. New skills & information are consolidated and even recalled whilst we sleep, but how efficiently this happens depends on the quality and quantity of our sleep. So if you are trying to pass an exam getting to bed early will help you absorb the vital information.
4. Improves your Social Life – A 2007 study on sleep deprivation proved that not getting enough sleep causes chemical alterations in our brain, effecting the way we interpret the outside world. The study showed a lack of sleep dramatically compromised participants ability to interpret others, making them more likely to be judgemental, impulsive and more likely to react negatively to circumstances. So basically if you want to be a better person, strengthen your emotional and social skills by getting some sleep.
5. Get Fitter – Contrary to belief, you don’t get fitter in the gym you get fitter whilst you sleep. Sleeping is your bodies opportunity to rebuild & repair to keep up with the demand placed on it. By ensuring you get a good nights sleep, not only will you recover quicker but your body will utilise the benefits from each workout.
So now you know why you should make it a priority, here is my list for improving the quality of your sleep – the goal is to stay in deep sleep for as many minutes as possible. You can track your sleep with a variety of apps on your phone such as sleep cycle, use it to get a baseline then try the steps below to see if it improves.
How to Sleep Deeper & Longer;
Step 1 – Don’t Exercise, MOVE!
A 20 minute workout can increase your need for sleep by up to 3 hours! If you have poor quality sleep and are not currently exercising, don’t start now, address your sleep first then move on to exercise. You can however move. Getting outside first thing in the morning will give you the most sleep benefits, so think of ways to include walking into your routine before 10am. Then don’t let yourself get stagnant for more than 45 minutes at a time. Use a standing desk, set an idle alarm or schedule movement into your day.
Finally right before you go to sleep, lie in your bed and spend 5 minutes individually tensing different muscles. Start at your toes – tense for 3 seconds as tight as possible then release, do this all the way up your body, including your face (maybe wait for your partner to leave the room before you do this one!) This practice releases some of the energy from your cells, putting your body into a relaxed state so that you are more likely to have extended periods of deep sleep.
Step 2 – Caffeine cut off
Caffeine is a stimulant and can stay in your body for up to 10 hours so stay away from all caffeinated drinks after 2pm. Tea and coffee are the obvious suspects but don’t forget about fizzy drinks, green tea, lucozade and certain herbal teas. Quick tip: with teas the longer you brew them, the more caffeine they will have.
Step 3 – Save your carbohydrates for dinner
Carbohydrates will naturally shut off cortisol. Cortisol is one of the stress hormones, which if regulated properly should be highest in the morning, to help stimulate us then drop off throughout the day for a restful nights sleep. If you are more of a night owl, chances are your cortisol secretion is upside-down. To rectify this try saving your carbohydrates for your evening meal – opting for high nutrient sources like sweet potato, butternut squash, beetroot etc.
Step 4 – Digital Disconnect
In 1998 scientists proved just how sensitive our hormones are to light by shining a light on the back of a participants knee whilst they we’re sleeping. The study showed the participant’s sleep cycle was broken, even when his eyes were covered. This shows how much our bodies are affected by the lights from electronics. To improve the quality of your sleep ideally, you should turn off all electronics and be in dim lighting after sunset. However, short of living in a cave, that’s pretty unrealistic so instead after sunset use programmes like Get Flux for your computer and Twilight for your phone/ tablet to reduce the amount of light they omit, then turn all electronics off 30 minutes before bed and definitely don’t check e-mails or Facebook right before bed.
Step 5 – Get Naked
Scientifically your body has an increased ability to regulate temperature when it is not restricted by clothes, this is because hormones are very sensitive to temperature. Sleeping naked drops your skin temperature without dropping your core temperature which is essential for optimising deep sleep. But the benefits don’t stop there; sexually you will increase your confidence, desire and demeanour around the bedroom by being in the buff. Why? As well as an increase in body awareness, oxytocin, one of the feel-good hormones are released when we experience skin to skin contact. Making your bedroom a clothes-free zone will encourage you to only use it’s 2 main purposes; sleep & sex – both of which have excellent health benefits!
Dedicated to simplifying wellbeing so everyone can live their best life.
Pip & The DayOne Wellness Team
Educate Yourself. Empower Others. Exceed Together.