It might be hard to believe, but there might come a point in your life when if you asked an exercise professional: What should I do to get fit?
The answer would be:
Go and get some sleep man!
There are people who love sleep more than anything, and they would probably agree to sell their family members if that could get them 5 more minutes of sleep in the morning. And on the other end of the scale there are people who see sleeping as something annoying they have to do to survive, but they would rather spend that 8 (sometimes rather 5 and a half) hours doing something more useful.
And often we are the first type but our lifestyle makes us pretend we are the second one. Trying to fit work, studying, commuting, cooking, sport, meeting friends, (put in whatever you like), AND 7 or 8 hours of sleep into 24 hours is simply impossible.
I don’t feel entitled to give advice and tips on how to go to bed earlier and get more sleep. However, I feel that knowing how sleep deprivation affects our body might open one’s eyes and encourage them to find ways to get more sleep.
When we are asleep, our body is restoring, repairing, healing and getting ready for the next day. When we don’t have enough sleep, not only we don’t give our body proper rest, but we load it even more. All this accumulates and makes it even harder for the body to deal with. That is why catching up on sleepless nights is so hard and can take weeks.
While asleep, our brain is forming new neuron pathways. That is when our memory traces are created, one side effect of lack of sleep has therefore negative impact on short-term and long-term memory and the ability to learn new things. Moreover, sleep deprived person is more moody, gets annoyed with little things, and is less productive.
Because our brain is trying to deal with the lack of sleep, it is harder to concentrate of things which we can usually deal with easily. We cannot focus and we are clumsy, which again leads to irritation or annoyance. Accordingly, we fight with our partners or friends and that often prevents us from getting proper sleep. This vicious circle can cause not only anger and frustration, but also anxiety or depression.
When it comes to physical aspects, not having enough sleep may cause weight gain. When our body is tired and looks for source of energy, you crave sweet things. That is because simple carbohydrates and foods with high glycaemic index, such as cakes and doughnuts, give our body the quickest energy boost. Weight gain is caused also by insufficient productivity of hormone leptin, that tells our body that we are full, and excessive production of hormone ghrelin, that tells us that we need to eat.
In addition, sleep is crucial for muscle growth. It is because muscle growth happens when microtears in muscle tissue caused by physical activity are being repaired.
Last but not least, our sexual libido is affected as well. The reason is not only the lack of energy, but also increased stress.
So don’t forget: be yourself, be unique, and get some sleep!