Every time someone wants to get healthy, the first things that they mention are diet and exercise. While these are important factors, they are not the only factors that make up your health. There is also sleep and as simple and trite as it may seem, sleep plays a big role in our health. Let me explain to you why you need to consider sleep in your quest for health.
As a university student, there are a lot of us out here not getting the sleep we need. Sometimes its inevitable but, other times we can prevent it. My friends laugh at my dedication to sleep but, I have my reasons. Here is why functioning on 0-6 hours of sleep per night is not always a great idea.
Sleep helps you remember things better.
Yeah, cramming the night before an exam may be helpful if you know nothing at all about the subject you are about to be tested on but, most times forgoing sleep can be detrimental to your knowledge. When you sleep, it gives your brain time to process and organize all the new information you learned. Sleep along with daily practice can help turn some piece of information into longterm knowledge. This is why you are always told to be well rested before an exam. Also, because your brain may be equivalent to an intoxicated person without sleep.
Sleep helps to add-on to your physical goals.
Sleep is a huge component of fitness. Most fitness gurus know this. Why do you think they are so big on melatonin supplements? When you sleep your muscles are being replenished and rebuilt which in turn helps with soreness. Part of a good fitness routine especially for serious fitness competitors includes a good night of rest. Some athletes even get as much as 11 hours! I don’t even know where they have time for that. A good night’s rest helps you to be better prepared for the next day of training and can prevent injuries. Whether you are training for strength, weight loss, or muscles, sleep can help with your goals.
Sleep helps with weight-loss.
Scientists think that sleep may be involved with ghrelin and leptin hormones. Ghrelin is your hunger hormone. Leptin opposes the hunger. Lack of sleep causes you to secrete more ghrelin and less leptin so you eat more. So get a good night’s rest if you want to lose weight.
Your brain undergoes maintenance when you sleep.
Sleep seems to have an association with Alzheimer’s disease. The less sleep you get, the more likely you are to develop Alzheimer’s disease. Of course, for some people, they are genetically predisposed to Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease but, most diseases are a combination of genetics and environmental stimulus meaning that disease can be triggered by external factors such as how and where you live your life daily. When we sleep, our brain clears out all the trash and does it’s filing. If we don’t sleep enough, that trash can begin to pile up, stinking up the brain with its decay.
How to get better quality sleep?
Improve your sleep hygiene by doing these things:
- Stop using technology after sundown or use blue light filters on all your technology. This is possible for phones and laptops. Some phones and laptops already have this functionality, just check your settings. If not, visit your app store to check out some free apps.
- Exercise but don’t exercise too late. Exercising during the day can tire you out but, exercising too close to bedtime can overexcite your body.
- Don’t drink water to close to bedtime. This is only so you don’t wake up once to use the bathroom.
- Stop drinking caffeine after 6 PM. Trust me even if you do not feel the caffeine, the caffeine does affect your sleep.
- Get your mind to solely associate your bedroom with sleep. Do not do anything other than sleep in your bedroom. For college students in a dorm room, limit that situation to your bed. This makes your mind automatically start preparing for bed once you hit the sheets. It’s so tempting to use the bed for other things like watching Netflix or studying but, don’t do it!
- Do not force sleep. Forcing sleep only puts more pressure on you to fall asleep. Leave the room and read a book but, there is no need to toss around aimlessly if you cannot fall asleep. This is one piece of advice I have trouble with.
For some people, the recommended 7-9 hours per night will not always be feasible so, I cannot say that you absolutely have to get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. However, try to get as much sleep as you can nightly. Some studies show that catching up on sleep debt (the total amount of sleep missed each night) later doesn’t help while others show that it does, do what works best for you. If sleeping in on the weekends helps, do it. But, don’t forget that sleep counts when you are looking to become a healthier and happier you.
Thanks for reading my rant,
I hope you found this post informative. Like this post and follow me if you want more posts like this. Comment below. What is another factor of health that people forget to consider? What did you learn?