One of the most underutilized aspects of life is the optimization of our sleep! It is something that is usually taken for granted, as many people will state “I can sleep when I die…”. I remember talking about the concept of durability and resilience with an individual who works in special operations and he had told me how very rarely gets a full night sleep and how this minimal amount of sleep (< 4 hours) is ultimately what makes them so resilient to adversity. From a certain perspective, I can understand how people think that sleeping less means more time to accomplish your goals and stay ahead of your competition but one thing that can never be neglected is science; and science will tell us that not sleeping enough surely affects your mental capacity, appetite, muscular adaptations, hormone secretion, and so much more!
I am sure that you have heard before that getting about 8 hours of sleep each night is absolutely necessary in order for you to feel rested and recovered. This is a great number to try and reach as it ensures that your cells and organs have enough time to recycle metabolic waste and replenished with healthy and new cell growth. Studies have shown that just one night of sleep deprivation can affect the way your body produces insulin which affects how your body utilizes glucose, which ultimately dictates how your body produces and uses its energy stores. To put in layman terms, when you don’t sleep enough, your ability to lose weight or gain lean muscle mass is affected tremendously to the point where your exercise routine on a lack of sleep actually diminishes your longevity and adaptations.
Think about it like this, when you are awake and active, you are usually in a state of catabolism, which is a state of breakdown to eventually feeds into you recovering and adapting to become faster, stronger, smarter, etc. The recovery aspect of your breakdown happens when you are sleeping, as this state would be considered an anabolic state which gives your body the opportunity to repair and rejuvenate your immune system, hormones, and overall daily metabolism. I know these are all qualities that might be unseen and so it's tough to really get a grasp of how important of a role they play, but just understand that your sleep ultimately determines every aspect of your health and quality of life.
Small Tips to Optimize Sleep
Now, there are tons of activities that you can take control over to ultimately put your body in the best state to get a good night's rest. One of those activities is simply being able to get outside and get some sunshine. Being able to get outside in the morning and evening time allows for your body’s natural biological clock to be in sync with the sunrise and sunset as specific hormones are released when you are able to receive this type of natural energy from the sun. Also, sunlight helps in the production of Melatonin which ultimately dictates how well you stay asleep and when you wake up and arise. One other aspect that feeds into getting a good night's sleep is the amount of screen time and blue light you expose yourself to during the evening. This intense artificial light makes your body think that its daytime and increases the production of hormones like cortisol that are usually produced throughout the day and not in the evening.
Another important aspect to consider is the timing that you are going to bed. Speaking to the internal biological clock referred to as our Circadian Rhythm, our body understands that during the night time is our time to recover and rest, so during the hours of 10 pm to 2 am is our prime time! This prime team means that during this span, our body secretes the majority of our recovery hormones and allows for the most rejuvenating portion of our sleep to happen during this period. Also, trying to set yourself up for the most revitalizing sleep you can get, attempt to have your room temperature at 66-68 degrees Fahrenheit. Studies have shown that sleeping in this temperature allows for your body to be most comfortable and doesn’t necessitate that your body stay working to cool itself or heat itself up while sleeping.
The last two qualities that can affect your sleep is the amount of light you have in your room as well as the state of your nervous system. I know this may seem like a crazy concept but your skin has photoreceptors embedded within, meaning that you have cells whose job is to receive light stimuli and communicate that with your brain. In the case of sleeping, any type of light that may be present in your room will most likely hit your skin and alert your body to think that it is daytime. This process includes the release of certain hormones that correlate with awakening and can very much affect the amount of melatonin that is being released by your glands. The other aspect to be mindful of is how stimulated you are before going to bed. It is inevitable, we all have work and issues that we must address at all times of the day. Although, heightened stimulation during the evening time really forces your body into thinking that it needs to be up and aware so therefore, certain hormones like cortisol will be released to try and keep your body awake. This is why breathing techniques and a night time movement routine is so important, it gives your body the space to down-regulate before bed as we have learned how important it is to come-down during the evening time to set yourself up for the best sleep you can get.
In conclusion, sleep is ridiculously important. It ultimately affects every biological process in your body and determines how you adapt from your exercise and nutrition routine. Not only does it have the power to determine how strong or fast you become but a lack of sleep will surely diminish the ability for your brain to function at a high rate which for every type of athletes, is imperative to daily performances! If you are interested in learning more about how you can optimize your sleep, make sure you check out our accountability system through Hii-Tide. Here, we are able to discuss daily how well you sleep and way to optimize your process.