Sujata is an architect by profession and has a passion for writing. She shares her life experiences through writing, hoping to be of help.
In today’s fast pacing world and with all our workload that we tend to have all the time, the thing that gets most neglected is our sleep. Late nights are a very common scene nowadays – either be it for working overtime or for partying all night long. These are extremely common scenes that we encounter today.
However, we tend to ignore the fact that out of everything, sleep is the most important ritual of one’s day to day life. The benefits that good sleep bring in is often overlooked causing numerous detrimental effects to health.
Nowadays, with our polluted air and water causing various health issues, it is now even more important to give ourselves enough hours of good sleep to keep ourselves healthy to fight the diseases and health issues. And in case we are weight training and a regular user of the gym, sleep is of utmost importance for recovery. Apart from that, there are several psychological benefits of good sleep as well which cannot be overlooked.
The 10 most important benefits of sleep are listed below.
1. Weight Loss
I could myself see the change and the effect sleep has on me and on my health and the immense effect it had on my fitness journey.
When I started my fitness journey at the end of November 2020, I had a very disrupted sleep pattern. I was doing a full-time job and I would also have work that I would bring home from office. I would have a very hectic schedule. I would be out of home for more than 12 hours, that includes my time in the gym. And I would barely get 5 hours of sleep. I had real struggle to bring in more hours of sleep into my routine.
But at that point of time, I had just started out so I could see changes in my weight. In the sense, I did lose weight and fats percentage as well. However, that was just because I was a beginner, and my body suddenly received a lot of physical tension. But I would always be tired. My blood pressure would be skyrocketing in the evening, and I would suffer from headache.
Slowly in four months’ time, I did learn to manage my time and my sleep pattern got better. I could squeeze in 6 hours of sleep at max but that was not enough. Six hours of sleep was required to recover from my workout. But I would be so tired by the end of the day, six hours of sleep was not enough. Once my body got used to the physical activity in the gym, it was not straining anymore. And since I continued weight training every day, I needed recovery time. But it was tough for me to get the full recovery time. So, I started gaining instead. It was only after I strictly maintained a sleep pattern that my recovery got better, and my weight started to get better again. Therefore, sleep has been playing a crucial role in my weight loss and fitness journey.
2. Muscle Recovery
I am a gym addict and I love weight training. Though I still do cardio, it is 5 days a week that I go for strength training. Because of this my muscles are always at work and active. There is very less recovery time that it gets on a day-to-day basis. And the body goes into fatigue after the entire day’s work – both physical and mental. So, the only way I can get my recovery is by getting sound sleep. After active workout, a good nights’ sleep enhances muscle recovery through protein synthesis and human growth hormone release. Lack of sleep causes growth hormone deficiency which causes loss in muscle mass and reduces the exercise capacity the next day. Since my aim is to lean out, in addition to my workout and diet, sleep is the next essential component of my training program.
3. Stronger Immune System
While sleeping deep, all our body cells get their rest. Lack of sleep can disrupt the immune system and can make us prone to not only short-term illnesses but also chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart problems as well. Compromised immune system makes us easily prone to common cold and flu. And today, in the time of Covid-19, weaker immunity makes us more susceptible to being infected by the virus. Also, studies reveal that patients need more hours of sleep for recovery. Lack of sleep compromises the immune systems’ ability to identify the harmful viruses and bacteria leading to sickness.
4. Increase in Productivity
Sleep deprivation reduces the functioning capability of the brain as well. When the brain is not well rested, it is difficult for us to focus on a task and take in the details. Memory gets compromised and processing information is tough. Productivity goes down significantly because we are always in fatigue mode and keep getting distracted. Getting good sleep improves our problem-solving skills and enhances the memory performance in both children and adults which helps in increasing the overall productivity.
5. Mood Booster
Sleep deprivation is also linked with growing negative thoughts and the decrease in positive ones. Lack of proper sleep can increase the chances of mood disorder. There are higher chances of one developing depression in the long run and the chances of having anxiety or panic attacks also increases. Sleeping disorder has also been linked with deaths due to suicide. When we catch up on good sleep, our body and mind both relax and help us in recovering from the day. This helps in reducing the stress and in turn help us in keeping a sane mind and bringing a positive outlook towards life.
6. Emotional and Social Interactions
Sleep loss immensely effects our social interaction ability. When we do not get the required amount of sleep, we are not able to recognize the emotions of anger and happiness. We are not able to differentiate and tend to mix up these emotions, which in turn effects our social life. This has also been a personal experience - when due to lack of sleep, I would end up being cranky and behave in a way I am not supposed to. Now that I maintain my sleep properly, my emotional and social behavior has improved significantly.
7. Reduced inflammation
Lack of sleep has also been associated with inflammation in the body. Though inflammation is not visible externally most of the times, long term inflammation can damage the body and increase the chances of dementia, heart disease and cell damage. Inflammatory bowel diseases and risk of disease recurrence is also higher with sleep deprivation. Therefore, for a healthy bodily function, sleep is an essential element.
8. Athletic Performance
For someone who is into athletics and endurance sports like running, swimming, and biking, lack of sleep can affect significantly leading to lack of speed, accuracy, reaction time and mental well-being. For sports requiring excessive energy like wrestling and weightlifting, sleep might not be as important as endurance. But neglecting sleep will still impact the performance quality. Lower grip strength and difficulty in performing independent activities is evident with lesser hours of sleep.
9. Calorie Intake Count
Studies have also shown that sleep-deprived individuals feel hungrier and tend to eat more calories during a day. Sleep deprivation causes fluctuations in appetite hormones and gives misleading signals of the want to eat. Scientifically speaking, lack of sleep leads to higher levels of ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates appetite and reduces the levels of leptin, the hormone that suppresses appetite because of which one tends to feel hungry. Proper sleep regulates the appetite keeping a check on calorie intake.
10. Regulates blood sugar
Poor sleep habits highly increase the chances of type 2 diabetes as well. Sleep plays a crucial role in body’s metabolism and lack of it can lead to fluctuation in glucose/sugar levels developing the diabetes risks. However, in case of pre-diabetes condition in a healthy adult can be revived with only a week of proper rest and sleep pattern.
It has been very evident that sleep is essential in keeping ourselves health, not only physically but mentally also. 7-8 hours of sleep is ideal for an adult. And the bottom line is that, along with good nutrition and exercise, good sleep is an essential pillar of good health.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Sujata Hazarika