Like the nagging mother who tells you to get to bed, we here at Kenzai are here to implore you to get more sleep! And like the wayward rebellious teenager with a good point, we're sure you have a laundry list of reasons why you can’t or won’t or don’t get more sleep. Clothes to fold, dishes to wash, children to comfort, reports to get done, books to read, food to prep, and the to-dos go on.
Modern life has most of us burning the candle on both ends. We get it! But sleep is where the magic happens. Literally!
Sleep is the very foundation of health (on which diet and exercise rest) and why if you want to live your best life, 7-9 hours of sleep a night is the key.
Here's are 10 reasons why:
- Wakefulness, compared to sleep, is essentially low level brain damage. Scientist can measure impairments in the brain once you get below 7 hours of sleep. With 14 days straight of 6 hours sleep or less, your cognitive performance nose dives, and with no sign of leveling off.
- Insufficient sleep is linked to increased incidences of bowel, prostate, and breast cancer. We all have cancer cells within our body, and what really prevents the formation of full on cancer, are these natural killer cells. Their presence and performance has been shown to be boosted by good sleep. In fact, the World Health Organization has decided to classify any form of nighttime shift work as a probable carcinogen.
- People sleeping 4-5 hours a night will on average eat 200-300 extra calories each day. That’s 70,000 extra calories each year which translates into 10-15 lbs (~6 kilos) of extra body mass! With less sleep, the hunger hormone (ghrelin) gets ramped up and leptin (the cue to your brain that you’re full) gets suppressed. This is why after a poor night’s rest, you’re also more likely to make really bad diet decisions.
- Every 30 seconds, there is a car accident linked to lack of sleep. Drowsy driving kills more people on the roads than alcohol or drugs combined! After 20 hours of being awake, you are as physically and cognitively impaired as you would be if you were legally drunk. Don’t drive drowsy.
- Sleep is the greatest legal performance enhancing drug that people aren’t using enough. Sleep doesn’t improve the places where we’re already good in terms of motor skills, sleep is more intelligent than that. It finds friction points or motor skill deficits, and smooths them out/improves them at night when your eyes are closed. We see this a lot with musicians or athletes, one day they aren’t able to nail a piece or move, and the next day they can! It’s not practice that makes you perfect at a skill. It is practice with a night of sleep that makes it perfect.
- Not enough sleep means lower athletic performance. If you’re getting 6 hours of sleep or less, your time to physical exhaustion drops by up to 30%. Lactic acid builds up quicker the less sleep you have. The ability of your lungs to expire CO2 and inhale oxygen decreases as well. The less sleep you have the lower your peak muscular strength, the lower your vertical jump height, and lower your peak running speed.
- Lack of sleep is correlated to a higher injury risk. One study showed a 60% increase in probability of injury comparing people who get 9 hours of sleep a night, to those who get 5 hours. Your stability muscles also fail earlier when not getting enough sleep.
- The old adage, “sleep on it” is worth its weight in gold. During dream sleep, we take old information and combine it with new information we’ve learned, and form new connections/associations. For this reason, we might often find new solutions to previously unsolvable problems after a good night’s sleep. Thomas Edison was known to keep a notepad next to him as he slept to record his dreams and the solutions to problems he was trying to solve.
- A specific study showed that men who sleep 5-6 hours a night will have a level of testosterone 6-10 years their senior. Testosterone plays a key role in muscle mass and bones, sex drive, mood and quality of life, verbal memory and thinking ability…who wants to age prematurely?!
- There is a small fraction of of the population that has a certain gene that allows them to survive on 5 hours of sleep. The gene promotes wakefulness chemistry in the brain and is in less than 1% of the population. You are more likely to be struck by lighting than have this gene.
Convinced on the awesomeness of sleep? Good. Some quick tips to get started on a healthy sleep regimen includes setting regular bed and wake up times, turning off screens at least 1 hour before bed, keeping your house dimly lit a couple of hours before bedtime, and keeping your room cool.
Now turn off the screen and catch some ZZZ’s!
Cecilia Aiello // Kenzai Trainer