An estimated 50 to 70 million people in the U.S. don’t get adequate sleep every night. Sleep is essential to life, just like eating and breathing. The majority of recovery and restorative functions of the body occur during sleep. Muscle growth and tissue repair, a peak rate of protein synthesis and growth hormone release all occurs while you sleep. For optimal performance of your brain, metabolism, and physical activity, quality sleep is crucial.
In one night’s sleep you will experience 3-5 sleep cycles, in which your brain goes though different stages of activity. Each cycle is 1-2 hours long, and will fluctuate though cycles of very light sleep and very deep sleep. The deepest stage or REM cycle is when dreams occur. The REM cycle frequency and duration is very important when determining the quality of sleep. A prolonged lack of quality sleep produces easily recognizable warning signs. These warning signs include not wanting to get up in the morning, feeling tired throughout the day, nodding off, uncontrollable yawning, irregular appetite, and poor memory.
Here are some tips to ensure quality sleep every night. About 4 to 6 hours before you go to bed, avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine, as well as other chemicals that may interfere with sleep. Also, cut off your “screen time” one hour before bed. Keep a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. If you’re getting adequate sleep, you may find that you wake up automatically without needing an alarm. Regular exercise, especially aerobic exercise can help you fall asleep faster and make your sleep more restful. Relax before bed to make the transition into sleep less abrupt. Sleep primarily at night. Short naps are great for recharging and catching up on missed sleep, but too many naps, and naps that are too long, can interfere with your regular sleep schedule. Keep naps under an hour. Getting enough sleep will help you get more out of every workout. If you are eating healthy and exercising as much as you should be, and you’re still not seeing results, it could be a lack of sleep that’s inhibiting progress. Your body is incredibly resilient; allow it a chance to recover to see maximum results.