Everything You Need To Know About Sleep
Lack of sleep is not just bad for your concentration, but can lead to a cascade of problems that range from bad skin to weight gain.
Sleep is a highly active process during which the day’s events are processed and restoration occurs. We cycle between two stages: rapid eye movement (REM) and slow-wave (non-REM). During REM, heart rate and blood pressure fluctuate and dreams typically occur. After about 45-60 minutes, circulation, heart rate and blood pressure fall dramatically. Throughout the night, the two states continue to alternate every 90 minutes or so.
While the benefits of a good night’s sleep are well documented, getting enough shut-eye is still a challenge for many. According to the Sleep Health Foundation, more than 2 million Australians suffer from a sleep disorder, clinical insomia or sleep apnea (snoring). Like nutrition, sleep needs are unique to the individual. For adults, most studies show somewhere between 7-9 hours each night as ideal. While one or two nights of poor or little sleep won’t have much of an impact on optimal human function, a consistent lack of sleep can result in changes in hormone levels, particularly those related to stress, muscle recovery, mood and weight.
EXERCISE PERFORMANCE AND RECOVERY
Regular exercise helps us sleep better, but regular sleep helps us exercise better, and hitting the sack is the real secret to muscular size, strength and efficient recovery. If sleep is cut short, the body doesn’t have time to release the growth hormone (HGH), which stimulates growth and repair of muscles, as well as fat burning and bone building.
SLEEP AND HUNGER
During sleep the body balances two hunger-controlling hormones: ghrelin (which stimulates appetite) and leptin (which signals to the brain that you are satisfied). Research shows that a lack of sleep messes with brain regions that control appetite, making it hard to stick to a healthy eating routine. Even short term sleep deprivation increases cravings for high-sugar/high-fat foods. The consequence of too many days of sleep deprivation and the follow on of a poor diet is often weight gain.