If sleep takes a backseat to the rest of your life, you’re not the only one. A 2016 report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported that more than a third of American adults don’t manage even seven hours of sleep, much less the recommended eight. It’s common knowledge that sleeping eight hours is good for you, but you might not realize just how many good things a full night of rest can do for your body. Need some motivation to set a bedtime and stick to it? Read on to discover five amazing things that happen to your body when you get enough rest.
Support Your Weight Loss Efforts
Even if you exercise routinely and watch what you eat, trading an extra hour of sleep for an early-morning workout could be undermining your efforts to slim down. When you don’t sleep enough, your appetite increases, which anyone who’s pulled an all-nighter fueled by salty snacks and energy drinks can attest. This is because sleep deprivation interferes with your body’s hormone production. Inadequate sleep encourages your body to produce more ghrelin, known as the “hunger hormone,” and less leptin, which communicates to your brain that you’re full. Surging ghrelin levels convince you that you really do need a second cookie, and combined with a fatigue-induced lapse in judgment, your food choices go off track for the rest of the day.
Some research even suggests that sleeping too little can decrease your metabolic rate, so when you’re tired, you burn fewer calories no matter what you do. Maintaining a healthy metabolism is important for your entire body, so if you’re struggling to get a full eight hours, try adding a digestive supplement to your diet to keep you from losing sleep over a low metabolic rate. Take advantage of bargains at your local health store or online offers like this Nucific BIO-X4 coupon to get started with supplements without overspending.
Get the Most From Your Skin Care Routine
To many modern skin care experts, the idea of having separate routines for night and day sounds like more trouble than it’s worth. It is more work, but dermatologists have discovered that your skin does behave differently at night than it does during the daytime. The science behind this effect has to do with another hormone, melatonin. When you start to feel sleepy at night, it’s because your body is secreting more melatonin to prepare you for sleep, but that’s not its only job; melatonin also signals your skin cells that it’s time to shift out of defense mode and into a reparative state. Melatonin is so beneficial to skin that researchers have started to study it in topical applications, too.
Once you fall asleep, your body’s regenerative processes kick into high gear, and by the middle of the night, cell turnover and skin repair activities are moving along at a pace up to three times faster than what you might see during the day. Since you don’t want to miss out on the rosy complexion you’ll get from sleeping more, fold your skin care routine into your bedtime preparations; making time for peaceful self-care will help you relax and support your skin’s natural healing mechanisms. For a gentle but effective routine, include antioxidants, retinols, and a heavy-duty cream or lotion to seal in moisture for a good night’s sleep.
Build Muscle and Get Stronger, Faster
Your skin cells turn over faster at night because your body also secretes more human growth hormone, abbreviated HGH, while you’re asleep. That has major implications for the benefits you get from your workouts, too. No matter how hard you push yourself at the gym, if you don’t spend enough time in the deep, dreamless part of the sleep cycle that encourages your body to make more HGH, you won’t build as much muscle, your musculoskeletal cells won’t absorb the protein you dutifully ate, and you may even find that you can’t lift as much weight or sprint as fast as you think you should.
The effect is so pronounced that when experimenters put two groups of exercisers on the same training regimen and diet, the group that slept 8.5 hours nightly gained 40% more muscle mass—but those who were limited to 5.5 hours actually lost 60% of theirs. If changing your body composition is one of your fitness goals, there’s no way to achieve it without dedicating enough time to sleep.
Learn Better by Sleeping More
Everyone feels foggy and grouchy after a bad night’s sleep, but it’s not just fatigue that makes complex tasks feel like an uphill slog. Your brain undergoes several processes overnight to consolidate and store different types of memories. Cramming for a presentation the night before a big meeting can be counterproductive because both the rapid eye movement phase of sleep, when dreams occur, and dreamless slow-wave sleep play a role in your ability to hold onto new knowledge.
The REM phases, which happen at approximately 90-minute intervals spread out across an eight-hour sleep cycle, are also involved in acquiring new procedural memories, a term that scientists use to describe your memories of how to perform specific tasks, like driving a car or learning a new language. Well-meaning students up all night preparing for exams know from experience that without getting enough sleep, your brain simply can’t hold onto the new information you’ve given it, and the next morning, all that effort feels like it was for nothing.
Boost Your Mood by Hitting Snooze
Stress, sadness, and other negative emotions can keep you up at night, but it’s a particularly vicious cycle because losing sleep can make a bad mood even worse. It’s not just that you’re more likely to feel down when you didn’t get enough sleep the night before; experimental research has revealed that it’s actually the lack of sleep that causes your bad mood. Scientists think that the biological basis for this unfortunate effect may rest with the amygdala, which plays a key role in experiencing and regulating negative emotions.
If getting enough sleep is a challenge for you because of unpleasant emotions, invest time in managing these thoughts during the day so you’ll be prepared for them when they arise at night. For people who have chronic difficulties with mood and sleep, it’s always best to meet with a doctor or therapist to create a personalized treatment plan.
A busy schedule can make sleep feel like just another chore, but dedicating more time and effort to getting the full eight hours you know you need doesn’t take away from your daytime goals; in fact, it might be the strategy you need to finally achieve what you want.
Sleep Quantity vs. Sleep Quality
Let’s say you determine that 8 hours of sleep is actually golden for you. You go to bed each night by 10pm and get up at 6am and generally feel amazing. What happens though if you shift your bedtime to 1am and wake up at 9am? You’d still be getting 8 hours of sleep, but would you continue to feel as terrific and refreshed as before? Not according to neurologist Kulreet Chaudhary, MD.
Dr. Chaudhary notes that the deepest and most regenerative sleep occurs between 10pm-2am. This is relevant since the more deep sleep we get, the more muscle repair and body restoration take place. Moreover, Chaudhary states that if your body is chronically deprived of regenerative sleep, then you may still feel fatigued when you wake up.
In short, she claims timing your sleep is like timing an investment in the stock market-it doesn’t matter how much you invest, it matters when you invest. It also matters how you invest. Your bedroom atmosphere, routine, mattress, and caliber of pillow all need to be addressed. These environmental factors, especially mattresses, will vary from person to person, but they do make a difference in sleep quality.
The Golden Sleep Rule
Rather than 8 hours continuing to be hailed as the golden rule for sleep, it seems best to consider it as more of a guideline. In its place, I propose a new golden sleep rule accounting for age and hours of sleep needed by an individual. It’s also important to stick to a 10:00-10:30pm bedtime. This makes for a far more comprehensive, personalized and likely way to achieve greater sleep success and well-being.
Alaska Sleep Clinic is the most comprehensive sleep lab in Alaska. Call us today for a FREE sleep assessment.