If you were offered the most powerful legal performance enhancing drug available would you take it?
What if I said you already have it and aren’t using it to its full potential? Every 24 hours you get the chance to pick up your prescription for health and performance. What is it? Sleep. If you get less than 7 hours of it every night, you are depriving yourself of the most powerful drug on the market.
Why should you sleep more you ask? It optimizes a diversity of functions in the body.
- Sleep enhances our ability to learn, memorize and make good decisions.
- It keeps us emotionally stable so we can make cool headed rational decisions.
- It helps to restore the immune system and fight malignancies, infections and even the common cold.
- It also regulates the balance between insulin and circulating glucose which helps to manage our appetites and our gut health.
What happens when you don’t get enough sleep?
The list is long and scary.
- Insufficient sleep demolishes your immune system. Chronic lack of sleep increases your risk of both cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Inadequate sleep for as little as a week disrupts blood sugar levels to the point you would be classified as pre-diabetic.
- Have you ever noticed you are hungrier when you don’t get enough sleep? Lack of sleep suppresses hormones in your body that signal your brain that you have had enough to eat. This causes you to eat more than you should. A lack of “ZZZs” also causes you to make unhealthy food choices. You will have a tendency to eat anything in front of you instead taking the time to find and prepare healthier food options.
- If you are trying to lose weight and dieting but aren’t sleeping enough, you will lose lean body mass and not fat. Lack of sleep is detrimental to every part of your body. As you can see, the list of health issues is considerable.
So how do you optimize your sleep?
Sleep is so important that you should take steps to increase the amount and the quality of it. Two very important steps you can take immediately are to stop drinking caffeine after 1pm and limit your alcohol consumption at night. Both of these substances make it impossible to get into a deep sleep at night. Caffeine has a half life of 5-7 hours. This means that it takes that long to get 50% of the caffeine you just drank out of your system. Because the caffeine is lingering in your body you’re unable to get into a state of deep sleep. Alcohol has a similar effect.
A few other ways to improve your amount and quality of sleep is to utilize black out curtains or wear a mask to black out all light sources. Light tricks your brain into keeping you awake at night. Avoid screens at least one hour before bed. The light from these screens mimics daylight and delays natural melatonin production for at least 3 hours! Also, try cooling your bedroom temperature down to 65 degrees. Your brain and core temperature need to drop 3-4 degrees to get into a deep sleep. A sleep hack that helps this happen is taking a hot shower before bed. The hot water actually helps your body reduce its core temperature.
Now, a challenge.
Sleep is the most powerful legal drug on the market, and you’re probably not getting enough of it. I challenge you for the next 7 days to get at least 8 hours of sleep per night, and cut out caffeine after 1pm. After a week, take a moment to examine the positive effects that healthy sleep has on your life. Sleep is the key to health and performance. You’ll be amazed at the differences you observe.