Sleep is often the most underrated aspect of a healthy lifestyle, frequently to the detriment of people especially when getting into shape is the goal. Sleep deprivation may occur spontaneously; an unforeseen event that prevents it, overtime work, family problems or may be the result of bad habits such as late night TV or internet. Whatever the reason, sleep remains a primal need, even more important for athletes and people trying to get into better shape.
Benefits of Sleep
The benefits of sleep are numerous, an entire science being dedicated to its study. However, just to enlighten you with what you may be missing, here are a few;
- Increased Muscle Growth – muscles grows while you sleep and not during your hourly gym session in case you didn’t know. Gym time elicits muscle breakdown, the stimulus for rebuilding to commence, stronger and bigger. During sleep, with the release of growth hormone and melatonin, protein synthesis is accelerated and the deposition of lean muscle mass achieved.
- Improved Immune System – ever notice yourself prone to illness when lacking sleep? Well it’s because the antibodies your immune system produces may become suppressed from periods of poor sleeping. Similar to muscle building, immune system cells and organelles consist of proteins too. Sleep stimulates production of white blood cells and other functional units.
- Improves Mood – sleep helps to reduce aggression and psychiatric illness, possibly by increasing the concentration of feel good hormones in the brain. Serotonin, the key of these hormones, is released in during sleep.
How to Improve Sleep
If sleep evades you, consider trying these tips;
- Have a warm bath before bed- this helps to loosen tight muscles and can ease the mental load after a hard day’s work.
- Eat a Protein rich dinner- protein naturally contains an amino acid called tryptophan, known to help bring on calm, relaxation, and sleepiness.
- Sleep in a dark room- light breaks down a hormone called melatonin, very important in helping you get to sleep.
- Sleep light- the hotter you are, the less likely you are to sleep. Wear just the bare minimum before going to sleep, if you sleep alone, naked is an option too!!
Sleep can be the make or break variable in your health and fitness goals. If your diet and training is spot on, yet you fail to realize your potential, take a step back; and hit the hay if need be!
by Adrian Harper