Sleep is one of those things we can only go so long before our body starts talking to us, our eyes are closing and head starts bobbing when we’re seated, we start eating more to feel like we have more energy, we drink more coffee for energy as well.

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Sleep, according to the American Sleep Association is a five stage process where we go in and out of REM(rapid eye movement), these other stages according to ASA is where we can experience sudden muscular contractions, feelings of falling and our brains emit lower forms of brain waves called delta waves shown by electrodes that measure electrical activity of the brain, but as most people know REM is where a lot of your repair is occurring.

Research shows lack of sleep increases risk of heart disease and obesity, there are processes that happen in the night like the rising and falling of heart rate and breathing that have a positive influence on cardiovascular health and hormones are released that help with the repair processes of our cells.

 

Here are some words from people who are experts in the field of sleep:

 

Ongoing  research shows a lack of sleep can produce diabetic-like conditions in otherwise healthy people,” says  DR. Merrill Mitler. Sleep expert and neuroscientist

 

“Sleep affects almost every tissue in our bodies,” says Dr. Michael Twery, a sleep expert at NIH. “It affects growth and stress hormones, our immune system, appetite, breathing, blood pressure and cardiovascular health.”

 

Benefit of sleeping well (big biceps not included) J

 

 

Proper sleep hours:

Age group Recommended amount of sleep
Infants 9-10 hours at night, plus 3 or more hours of naps
Toddlers 9-10 hours at night, plus 2-3 hours of naps
School-age children 9-11 hours
Adults 7-8 hours

 

An argument might be made for this graph, I do believe there is an individual basis. Like for instance being a more naturally peaceful person, you’ll favor more of your parasympathetic nervous system or your “rest and digest system” you’ll be in a better state of recovery throughout the day, the more you favor your sympathetic nervous system or “fight or flight system” the more burn out of nutrients will occur which has been stated by researchers. Go with how you feel on this one, but it don’t hurt to shoot for the daily recommended.

 

Now that we have an idea of what sleep is and how it affects us, here are some factors to consider when it comes to getting better sleep:

 

-Set a schedule (Fall asleep at night and rise around the same time each day)

-Avoid Caffeine, Nicotine and Alcohol all can rob you of REM sleep

-Relax before bed (meditate, journal or do something that allows your mind to unwind)

-Don’t just lie in bed awake (do something outside of the bed until you can, anxiety of not being able to fall asleep can contribute to insomnia)

-Control room temperature (extreme room temperatures can affect REM sleep)

– Try to leave electronics out of the bedroom (cognitive stimulation can cause increases in electrical activity causing a rise in stress hormones, which is opposite of what you want before bed)

Proper sleep obviously has a big impact health-wise and will affect performance in and outside of the gym, make sure you’re getting adequate rest and have your bases covered for optimal functioning.

 

Brian Aemisegger A.C.E. (American Council of Exercise)  C.P.T

N.A.S.M. (National Academy of Sports Medicine) Fitness Nutrition Specialist

10 years training experience

 

References: American Sleep Association

NIH- News in Health 2013

Mayo Clinic