If I told you there was a pill you can take that will improve memory, help you live longer, make you more creative, look younger, protect you from dementia and cancer, prevent flu and colds, lower your risk of heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes, make you happier, less anxious and less depressed, and improve the efficacy of your workouts would you take it?
If your answer is yes, then I have good news for you. You don't have to take a pill to get all the benefits listed above, but you do have to get the proper amount of sleep every night.
Matthew Walker’s Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams is an eye-opening read about sleep and all of its benefits.
Just reading this book made me immediately change my sleeping habits.
We have been told to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night, but most of us don’t know how vital it is.
According to Walker, "sleep is the single most effective thing we can do to reset our brain and body health each day...".
When it comes to getting and staying in shape it looks like sleep is just as, if not more, important than diet and exercise.
Walker writes, "should you attempt to diet but don't get enough sleep while doing so, it is futile, since most of the weight you lose will come from lean body mass, not fat."
When you don’t sleep enough, you eat more. Your body also is unable to process food like it should, causing you to gain weight and increase the likelihood of all sorts of diseases. Lack of sleep causes a significant decrease in energy as well. It’s the perfect storm for weight gain; low energy expenditure, increased calorie intake, poor nutrient absorption, and a body not capable of processing those calories efficiently.
Your workouts will suffer too because sleep supercharges recovery, stimulates muscle repair, refills your natural energy supply, and replenishes vital hormones. So if you don’t sleep enough, you won’t fully recover from your workouts, and you will have crappy energy so your following workouts won’t be as quality as they should be.
And if you're one of those people that says you can get by with less sleep than others, just know that "There is but a fraction of 1 percent of the population who are truly resilient to the effects of chronic sleep restriction...it is far, far more likely that you will be struck by lightning then being truly capable of surviving on insufficient sleep".
I’ve heard, many times, people say something like “I’m good with 5 or 6 hours of sleep”. If you are one of these people, please know you are not good with less than 7 hours of sleep. You have just grown accustomed to feeling crappy and tired ALL THE TIME. Imagine how much more you could get done and how much better you could feel if you got adequate sleep on a consistent basis.
Why We Sleep presents way too much information for me to share in one post.
To sum it all up in one sentence: sleep 7-9 hours EVERY night!
If you’re interested in learning more, read or listen to Why We Sleep.
You can also check out a great podcast Matthew Walker did here.
Now go get some sleep!