When we talk about health most people think about exercise and diet, nowadays sleep and stress are starting to be part of this talk, but still most of us don´t give sleep the attention it deserves.
Throughout the last post we´ve learnt that sleep plays an important role on maintaining optimal health, during sleep our body is not resting, it´s doing so many different activities including cleaning, repairing, recovery and growing.
There are several reasons why we need to prioritize sleep, if you want to feel energized and be able to concentrate you need to make sure you´re enough high quality sleep, if you want to be able to memorize, learn and remember new skills and information you need to get enough high quality sleep. If you know tomorrow you´re having an exam or competition or an important event you know you need to perform as best as possible, you want to be able to concentrate and remember everything you studied before so you need high quality sleep. Our brain works better and is able to perform and remember more when we concentrate on the task at hand for a certain period of time, it can be 30 minutes to 60 minutes or even 90 minutes and then we take a rest. You can concentrate for a longer period of time, but you´ll get to a point where it´s harder to stay concentrate and you start getting distracted. After a period of concentration you need to give your body and brain a rest, naps are beneficial here, if you can´t get the 7 or 8 hours recommended of sleep you can take a nap.
Another reason why we need to prioritize sleep is to make sure that all hormones and systems in our body are working in harmony, one night of poor sleep or lack of sleep can make us insulin resistance, hormones get out of balance which is a reason why we feel hungry and we have more cravings and it´s harder to avoid those cravings so we end up eating a lot more especially unhealthy foods.
Lack of sleep or poor sleep has been related to different health problems making diseases worse. Research has shown that lack of sleep or poor quality of sleep to be associated with diseases like diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, strokes, depression and even cancer. We need to mention that lack of sleep or poor quality of sleep can be caused by sleep problems like sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, stress.
If we´re following a program to lose weight if we don´t get enough sleep it will be harder to stick to the diet and to exercise, for some reason we can´t avoid unhealthy foods and we can´t maintain a calorie deficit plus we don´t feel energized and motivated to do any type of physical activity, lack of sleep makes our weight loss journey a lot harder. You don´t need to get 8 hours of sleep, most of us don´t have the luxury to sleep that much, you can get 6 hours of sleep just make sure those 6 hours are the best quality possible.
As you can see all 4 principles of fitness need to be working together, sleep, stress, diet and exercise are all important and if one of them is not on point it will affect negatively the other 3 principles, poor sleep or lack of sleep will increase stress, will lead to unhealthy food choices and leads to lack of physical activity. It leads to hormonal imbalances that not only makes your weight loss harder but it also leads to diseases.
We may not have the possibility to get 7 or 8 hours of sleep every night, and if you´ve been following me and reading my posts you may know by now that I believe that getting 6 hours of high quality sleep might be better than getting those 7 or 8 hours. What we can do is make sure that the hours of sleep we get are the best quality possible, this can be achieved by having sleep routines and habits, what you do before going to bed is really important, and what you do right when you wake up also matters. Physical activity and getting sunlight also play a huge role on the quality of sleep.
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