Why it’s important and what does it do?
The power of sleep seems to be underestimated, the pros surpass the cons by a margin and yet we take it for granted. Sleep is essential for so many humanly functions. Such include:
- Sleep allows the repair of muscles. When we work out in the gym we break down muscle fibres and the majority of those broken down fibres are fixed in our sleep. Not enough sleep could mean possible loss in gains.
- Sleep affects those split decision moments, which could mean the difference between winning & losing in game scenario and life decisions.
- Some research suggests that sleep deprivation increases levels of stress hormone, cortisol. Sleep deprivation has also been seen to decrease production of glycogen and carbohydrates that are stored for energy use during physical activity. In short, less sleep increases the possibility of fatigue, low energy, and poor focus at game time. It may also slow recovery post-game.
- If you are learning a new skill, sleep consolidates what you learn. When you arise the following morning your skill acquisition becomes stronger than before you slept.
- Brain removes toxins and waste during sleep, not getting enough sleep will not accommodate with the removal of toxins which cause lack of concentration, loss of memory, bad moods, depression & increase in the stress hormone cortisol.
11 Benefits of Sleep
In a TED Talk by Russell Foster sleep is linked to weight gain in a group who slept under 5 hours a night. Those who slept less than 5 hours are 50% more likely to be obese, this is due to the release of the hormone ghrelin, this hormone is in charge of our appetite. This hormone sends signals to the brain saying it craves carbohydrates especially sugars.
How do I manage sleep & how to get more efficient sleep?
In Nick Littlehales book ‘Sleep’ he busts the myths of 7-8 hour sleep. Sleep should be measured in cycles. A normal cycle lasts 90 minutes. This 90 minutes is broken into 5 stages:
Stage 1 is light sleep where you drift in and out of sleep and can be awakened easily. In this stage, the eyes move slowly and muscle activity slows. During this stage, many people experience sudden muscle contractions preceded by a sensation of falling.
In stage 2, eye movement stops and brain waves become slower with only an occasional burst of rapid brain waves. The body begins to prepare for deep sleep, as the body temperature begins to drop and the heart rate slows.
When a person enters stage 3, extremely slow brain waves called delta waves are interspersed with smaller, faster waves. This is deep sleep. It is during this stage that a person may experience sleepwalking, night terrors & talking during one’s sleep These behaviours are known as parasomnias, and tend to occur during the transitions between non-REM and REM sleep.
In stage 4, deep sleep continues as the brain produces delta waves almost exclusively. People roused from this state feel disoriented for a few minutes.
During REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, brain waves mimic activity during the waking state. The eyes remain closed but move rapidly from side-to-side, perhaps related to the intense dream and brain activity that occurs during this stage.
This cycle is repeated 3-5 times on a nightly basis. This is why when you are waken by your alarm in the mornings you wake groggy and disoriented because you wake up in stage 4 or REM sleep & you haven’t had the full sleep cycle. You must allow REM to pass and wake at stage 1.
If you are interested in more research on sleep I would highly recommend the book ‘Sleep’ by Nick Littlehales. He talks about the research that has been conducted on sleep, how he brought sleep rooms into man untied and how he coaches sleep to elite athletes.
Try to aim for 4-5 cycles per 24 hours. Set up routines. Go to bed by 12pm and wake by 7.30am, that’s 5 cycles but work it out to your advantage and how it suits your lifestyle. Set up a evening routine and a morning routine that sets you up.
Anyways definitely check out Sleep it will teach you loads.