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The Importance of Sleep

Published: 5/25/15

Sleep is extremely important for your well-being and overall physical health. When it comes to sleep, quality and quantity are crucial elements. When you got plenty of good quality sleep it will help your brain function, and improve your physical health, mental health, safety, and even your quality of life.

Sleep deficiency can cause serious problems – from accidents, due to being too groggy or tired to pay attention (like a car accident), to increasing your risk for certain chronic health conditions (like hypertension, heart disease, and obesity). It can even affect your relationships at work and at home by affecting how you get along with other people and how you communicate. In short, you don’t want to skimp on sleep.

Your Brain

When you don’t get enough sleep your brain does not work the way it is supposed to work. A good night’s sleep allows your brain to prepare for the next day or the next waking period. As you slumber your brain is at work forming new neural pathways that improve your memory and capacity for learning.

So when you are working out and learning proper form for your exercises, a good night’s sleep will help you retain that information so that your work out is more effective and you are less likely to injure yourself. Sleep deprivation wreaks havoc on your brain by making problem solving and decision making more difficult – and it makes it more challenging for you to control your attention, behavior and emotions. If you are sleep deprived during your workout you may not make the best decisions regarding safety, and you may even take some unsafe risks that can lead to serious injury.

Your Mind

The sleep deprived mind tends to be less attentive and less motivated. Lack of sleep has been linked to depression, inattention, apathy, anxiety, and risky behavior. If you are depressed or just plain tired you aren’t likely to complete your workout – or even start. Depression and apathy can give you an “I don’t care” attitude and you might minimize the importance of exercise until you have phased it out completely. In short, skip sleep and you may not care about the consequences of a decision.

Your Body

Sleep is quite important in the healing process. It plays a central role in the repair and healing of your heart and blood vessels. Consistent sleep deficiency has been linked to a heightened risk of kidney disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease. Any one of these can have a significant, negative impact on your workout. Many of these conditions also lead to mobility issues, making it more difficult for you to work out.

Lack of sleep has also been shown to increase a person’s risk of obesity. Studies have shown that even one lost hour of sleep can increase the odds of a person becoming obese. There are two hormones that the body produces that are integral to healthy weight maintenance: Leptin and Ghrelin. Leptin gives you a full feeling while Ghrelin makes you feel hungry. Good sleep helps your body keep those hormones in a healthy balance. When you are sleep deprived your Ghrelin level increases while your Leptin level decreases. You are hungrier when you are tired than when you are well rested. Good sleep is actually a good component for a healthy weight loss strategy.

Your immune system depends on sleep to stay operating at its optimal performance. This important system is what protects your body from harmful or foreign substances including bacteria and viruses. If you regularly don’t get enough sleep it can actually alter the way your immune system works and responds. It can make your body less efficient at fighting common illnesses. Sick people rarely exercise and if you are exercising while you are sick you certainly aren’t getting all of the benefits from the workout.

Getting good sleep should be a part of your overall health and fitness plan. You can’t have an effective workout if you don’t sleep well. Your body just won’t respond the same and you won’t have the mindset to push yourself through. More than that, though, sleep is absolutely essential for good health.