Sleep: Why Is It So Important

After a long hard day, with both your mind and body exhausted, is there any better feeling that collapsing into a warm, comfortable bed? You’ve been working hard and this is your body’s reward.

By now, you should know that regular, good quality sleep is just as important for your well being as proper nutrition and regular exercise, but do you know why?

How you feel during the day is in part dictated by what is happening to your body whilst you sleep. The body uses this time to work on healthy brain function and physical health.

 

Keeping your brain healthy.

Whilst you are asleep, your brain is busy preparing for the next day. New pathways are being forms which will allow you to remember, learn and process new information. Studies have shown that getting a lack of sleep may contribute to poor decision making, problem solving and control of behaviour and emotion.

 

Keeping your body healthy.

Sleep is not just important for your brain. The rest of your body also uses this time to repair itself from the day’s strenuous activity, including your workouts. Your body is busy healing your heart and blood vessels, muscle tissue and repairing dead and/or ageing cells.

A lack of sleep can also affect the body’s natural secretion of human growth hormone (HGH). In men, around 60% – 70% of of daily HGH is released during the early stages of sleep. HGH is produced by the pituitary gland and stimulates growth, cell reproduction and regeneration.

 

Getting enough sleep.

Although we know it’s importance, many of us find it incredibly hard to actually get enough good quality sleep that the body needs. There are numerous reasons for this ranging from anxiety, stress and/or depression, medical issues or illness, medication and sleep disorders to name just a few. Once you find yourself in an unhealthy routine of various levels of insomnia it can be difficult to break the cycle, but there are a few tips and tricks to help you:

  • Use your bedroom as a place only for sleeping and sex – you want your brain to associate this place with sleep, so that once you enter the bedroom’s confines your brain knows exactly what it’s expected to do.

  • Avoid stimulating activity and stressful situation before bedtime.

  • Take away your clock – there is nothing worse than trying to get to sleep whilst at the same time stressing yourself about how soon you have to wake up again, this is nothing but counter-productive.

  • Get out of bed if you can’t sleep – do not try to force yourself to sleep. Tossing and turning will do nothing but increase your sleep anxiety. If you find yourself lying awake, get up, get yourself a nice warm cup of herbal tea, take a bath or read. Only return to bed when you feel ready.

  • Train your body to relax – OK, this one may take some time and there is work involved but studies do show that meditation, yoga and breathing exercises can help you control your body’s relaxation response and in the long term help you sleep.

*The views and/or opinions expressed in the blogs are not necessarily those of Training Nation, but of the author

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