Ooo… I LOVE posts like this one! If you love to snuggle up in your bed instead of getting up at the crack of dawn to get in a workout, you might like today’s post by guest blogger, Kim Bureros. It sounds like sleep may be even more important than exercise!
The average person is finding it hard to book time with friends, as though their free time is as limited as the most sought-after doctor in the region. Between, work, housework, eating and kids, people seldom have enough time to work out, let alone take up a hobby. As a result, usually the first thing people disregard and sacrifice is sleep. However, as it turns out, this can be more detrimental to your mental and physical health than missing the gym.
Sleep is pivotal to peoples’ well-being. There are the obvious bonuses of waking refreshed and being energized without a cup of coffee, but there are also some understated benefits. It’s the rewards of sleep that pass by unnoticed, since people are not altogether aware of what’s happening when they’re unconscious!
The quality of sleep we get can affect our moods and our perspectives. For example, serotonin is a neurotransmitter that controls sleep and unusual sleep patterns may affect levels in the body, causing mental health issues such as depression and those that arise from chronic fatigue syndrome. Someone with low levels of serotonin will experience more disruption of sleep and may develop sleep conditions. For example, stress will create lower levels of serotonin which will create a pattern of interrupted sleep, anxiety, depression and fatigue in a person’s life. Yoga and meditation, or activities that promote mindfulness, are recommended and are associated with increasing serotonin levels.
While this is all well and good for our mental health, what about the physical?
When asleep, the body has time to regulate and heal itself. Through evolution, we are programmed to be alert and aware, and this is why it takes so long to enter into restorative and healthy sleep. The Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep cycle is the most conducive to feeling rejuvenated, because—quite frankly—you are. During this sleep, your body replenishes and reproduces white blood cells that help with your immune system. The body has time to metabolize food and heal broken muscle tissue. The brain is fully restored during this time, heavily replenishing the frontal cortex—this is why, when you don’t get enough sleep, it’s usually followed by a headache. The body needs sleep to repair itself.
The body heals ripped muscle tissue while asleep which is essential to building muscle. If deprived of sleep, however, the body’s functions slow down, resulting in slower repair time. This is why the body will feel sorer than if the person had acquired the proper amount of sleep. Further workouts will only result in more muscle tearing and not enough muscle repairing. It’s easy to see how frustrated people can get when they’re unable to lift the same amount they could a week ago; this is probably due to poor quality sleep.
With sleep deprivation, all bodily functions slow down. This means that the metabolism slows down as well and will not be able to digest foods or absorb nutrients as quickly. This is all the more challenging because sleep deprivation is directly connected to the amount of leptin and ghrelin in the body. These two hormones have monolithic impacts on our diets. While leptin decreases hunger, ghrelin operates conversely. And, as the body becomes more and more sleep deprived, leptin levels drop and ghrelin levels rise. This means that you’re going to eat more even though your metabolism can’t handle it. This connection was made after diagnosing the majority of sleep apnea sufferers.
Sleep apnea is the result of the airway, at the back of the throat, narrowing, causing people to not get enough oxygen during sleep. This can result in snoring, but the biggest impact is that it causes people to continuously wake up during the night due to shortness of breath. These interruptions, however short, prevent people from achieving REM sleep, and thereby they’re never fully regenerated. The astonishing truth is that most people who suffer sleep apnea are obese, or otherwise overweight. While other factors can contribute to someone not getting enough sleep, weight is definitely a primary cause.
Regular exercise is always essential to a healthy lifestyle, but should not be attained at the cost of sleep. Sleeping a regular 7-9 hours is essential to your health and well-being.
About the Author
Kim Bureros writes for SleepDisorders.com as a copy writer. For many years, her background with blogging, writing and internet marketing has been focused on medical copywriting.
What do you think about this article? Do you believe sleep is more important than exercising and we should prioritize as such? Share your thoughts!