We often think that a healthy lifestyle is all about diet and exercise, that as long as we eat healthy and do some cardio, we’re fine and healthy. Because we live in a world and in a time when it doesn’t stop turning and there are a lot of things to do, we tend to forget (and take for granted) the other essential part of wellness and overall health: Sleep.
Since everyone wants and needs to accommodate their busy schedules and endless to-do lists, many people resort to shortening their sleep and resort to artificial energy boosts such as sports drinks and coffee. For them, as long as they snooze for at least four hours—a nap, actually, they can survive the day.
But, research shows this habit is very counterproductive. Science has backed it up: you can never be truly healthy, despite spending time at the gym and eating a balanced diet, if you never sleep enough.
In fact, many studies published in different medical journals and reports have found the undeniable connection between sleep and health, and how it can hinder you from reaping the effects of eating healthy and working out.
Here’s where insufficient sleep may be sabotaging your health goals.
Sleeping less than seven hours per night can disrupt your body’s ability to properly regulate appetite and caloric intake. Science explains that the naturally-produced hormones that are responsible for the feeling of hunger and its counterpart are ‘thrown out of sync’ whenever you don’t get enough zzzs. This, would result to wrong signals and you ending up overeating.
Your brain will feel tired, and your body will compensate by eating more, usually empty calories—those starchy, sugary comfort food you always crave for.
If you always eat these way, your goal of shedding off some pounds will obviously off the table. So, to put it simply, no matter how hard you train, or dedication to say no to that extra serving, you won’t attain your goals if you don’t sleep enough. Sad truth.
Recovery from Exercise and Injury
Sleep is crucial after a general workout, especially while recovering from an injury. One study conducted on athletes has found that lack of sleep can impede recovery and even prevent skills from improving. For short, they are on an endless cycle of training and injury without progress if they don’t get accurate hours of sleep.
Sleep is also important if you want to recover from the day’s workout session and feel well rested the next day. During our deepest sleep, about 80 percent of the day’s allocation of the human growth hormone (HGH) is released, which is essential for increased muscle mass, bone strength, energy balance, and strong immune response. Poor sleep has been shown to disrupt the secretion of HGH, dramatically altering our physiological response to exercise and daily activities.
Some studies have shown that improving repetitive motor skills involving sequences of muscle movements depend not only on how much you practice but also how much you sleep. So, no matter how you practice shooting that free throw or swinging that golf club, if you don’t sleep enough, it can be useless and you’re far from an improvement. We’re sorry to say: poor sleep impairs skill development,
Memory retention, Skills development, Problem solving and attention for Learning
It’s all about the brains inability to focus when you don’t have enough sleep. We bet we’ve all been there: one class when we can’t digest anything because we crammed the night before, one meeting when we got scolded for being absent-minded or a day at work when we can’t manage to finish any task no matter how hard we try to. It all boils down to one culprit: not enough snoozing.
At the same time, no amount of information will be retained if we don’t spend the night catching up on sleep. A good night’s sleep is dedicated to honing the skills and knowledge you acquired that day. Our brain’s ability to grasp new information, retain it and use it will lessen accordingly to our sleep the night before.
Remember: a tired brain can’t readily absorb new knowledge or skills, can it be creative and form new insights, nor be able to facilitate and do it in real life.
Stamina and Endurance
Do you ever feel more breathless when you are lacking sleep? Do simple exercises or physical activities tire you easily? By now, you probably already know why.
As a matter of fact, even mild sleep deprivation alters our body’s metabolic function, as a consequence, it affects how we store energy after a meal and then retrieves that energy during physical activity. This means that you will be feeling tired more quickly.
Since we have established that our brain has a harder time focusing when it suffers incomplete sleep, a lapse of attention, consequently we tend to react slower. These factors lead to an increased risk for automobile or workplace accidents. This can put our safety at risk, especially when put in a hazardous environment.
Who says lack of sleep only affects the physical well being? Sleep deprivation can also affect your emotions deeper than you expect.
When people are tired, we react more strongly to negative situations, and our coping skills are dulled. A vicious cycle ensues as stress negatively affects the quality of our sleep, and poor sleep leads to an inability to deal with additional stress — which is why poor sleep is a risk factor for depression.
In a world where we need to make use of both our hands at the same time due to the endless tasks we need to accomplish, it is normal to sacrifice sleep instead of productivity, but the fact doesn’t make it right.
Risking your overall health—and even jeopardizing your efforts to be healthy by not catching up on your required number of zzzs daily is not worth it, and in the end, you will just be trapped in an endless cycle of wanting to be healthy-eating right working out and yet, not achieving your goals.