If you were to ask your family and friends what they thought was important for a healthy lifestyle, most of them would answer to exercise regularly and to eat a nutritious diet. You may also hear people say not to smoke and to limit drinking, but barely anyone comments on sleep.
Human beings spend around a third of our life sleeping if you’re doing it right. The general recommendation is at least 8 hours per night, but the average person gets less than seven hours most nights. This is most likely due to busy lifestyle, electronics, and caffeine. Anyway, who cares about staying up an extra two or three hours if you can just fuel yourself on coffee and energy drinks whenever you have a crash?
Sleep and Weight Gain
The reality is that sleep is incredibly important for health, performance, and your overall quality of life. Even though you might feel less tired after a coffee, it doesn’t negate the effects of a bad night under the covers.
Various studies have now shown that a lack of sleep correlates with an increase in body fat percentage. This is due to the fact that your body is both more likely to store fat, but also because you become hungrier the more tired you are. Your body needs energy in order to function, and without a proper night of kip, it turns to food for that boost. This is also important if you’re cutting as your body is more likely to turn to muscle and lean tissue than it is to its fat stores. As well as this, you’ll have a lower insulin sensitivity, putting you at a greater risk of diabetes and other health issues.
Sleep and Cognition
You probably already know this, but a lack of sleep also reduces your cognitive output. You’ll find it easier to focus, concentrate, and solve problems after a good night of rest, but tend to struggle more without one.
Caffeine might only worsen the problem, too. Although you may feel better, your sensitivity to caffeine will slowly dampen, meaning that it takes more caffeine to make you feel better, and lowering your happiness and mood when you haven’t had any caffeine. Over consumption of caffeine can also lead to anxiety and depression, especially when going through withdrawal.
These are just some of the many, many ways that sleep is important for your body. Though it might seem like diet and exercise make up a 50/50 split when it comes to health and wellbeing, it’s more of a 20/40/40 split with exercise, diet and sleep. Aim to get at least 8 hours per night, making sure to go to bed before midnight.