People tell me all the time “I’m cool as long as I get 3-4 hours of sleep per night” like it’s some sort of badge of honor. This blows my mind..
I understand it is tough for a lot of us to get the optimal 7-9 hours of sleep recommended by health professionals because of our other badge of honor: “I’m sooo busy.”
There’s no judgment there. Trust me, I’m sooo busy too.
But sleep (quantity and quality) is something I keep near and dear to my heart. I’m quick to back out on commitments if it messes with my Z’s. Throughout college, I rarely pulled all-nighters. My philosophy was I’d rather be well-rested and bomb a test than get an ‘A’ and be miserable because after that ‘A’ I wouldn’t workout, I would crush a large pizza, be on edge with my friends, unfocused, and all around miserable throughout the day.
Importance of Sleep
Think of your body and mind as batteries. You need to recharge them otherwise you have no “juice” left, and you can’t post your dinner on Instagram.
Sleep is a hormonal reset button (or your charger). When you “recharge” your mind and body with good, quality sleep you reduce the stress hormone cortisol, which leads to less hunger, less cravings, and more energy throughout the day.
A study published online at the Public Library of Science shows the correlation between sleep and hormones that control appetite. This was a study of 1,024 people regarding their sleep and eating habits. People who slept less than 7-8 hours throughout the night showed a significant increase in appetite. These same people who slept less tended to weigh more than the individuals that had gotten more sleep.
So what are the benefits and disadvantages of the amount of sleep you get?
Positives of Getting Quality Sleep:
- Increased energy and motivation
- Decreased hunger and cravings
- You’re certainly better looking
- Better mood
- More productivity
- Increased sex drive (#nice)
Negatives of NOT Getting a Sufficient Amount Sleep:
- You get fat
- You look rough.. No offense..
- You have an increased appetite
- You don’t want to do anything
- If somebody speaks to you want to deck them in the face for no reason (except that you only got 3-4 hours of sleep)
Why You Can’t Sleep
Some of you may be getting frustrated and saying “Look bro, I want to sleep. I just can’t!” That is understandable. There is nothing worse than rolling around in bed for hours, or waking up at 4:00am and not being able to fall asleep.
Usually an inability to sleep has to do with an imbalance in blood sugar. For example, let’s say you eat dinner at 7pm, and you plan on going to bed early because you feel exhausted from a long day. However, come 10:00pm, 11:00pm, & 12:00am you feel wide-awake. Why? When you go for that extended period of time without eating your blood sugar levels drop. To combat this, your body releases stress hormones (adrenalin, noradrenaline, and cortisol) to raise your blood sugar back up. This causes your mind to feel alert and awake.
Something else that stimulates this response of your stress hormones is light. Yeah dude, light. So when you are zoning out and “relaxing” at night by watching television or surfing the web, you are actually steadily increasing those same stress hormones that keep your brain all jacked up.
How To Sleep Better
**Remember, we are all different, so you may have to do a little experimentation to figure out what works best for you.
- IF you are the type that stays up at night here is what you do; Eat a little bit of carbohydrate before bed. This should spike your blood sugar to help you fall asleep.
- IF you are the type who wakes up frequently or wakes up at 4am here is what you should do; Eat a little protein & fiber before bed. Protein stabilizes blood sugar for a longer period of time helping you stay asleep at night
- Keep the lights low: I know it’s tempting to watch TV or surf the web to “calm down” before bed, but here is what you should do instead.
- Dim the lights, or light candles
- Read a book
- Have sex (the candles set the mood and everything)
- Do some visualization exercises: Many successful people (Muhammad Ali, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, MLK, Michael Jordan) all say that they saw their success in great detail before it ever happened. Take time to close your eyes and picture vividly the success of your future.
- Dim the lights on your computer if you must be on Facebook
- Take a hot shower
- Study & Learn
- Yogi Bedtime Tea: This is a favorite of mine. If you put 4-5 bags in 8 oz of water it is similar to taking a small dose of Xanax. Good for relaxing before bed. You can get this at the grocery store.
- Magnesium (Glycinate): This can be found at GNC or Vitamin Shoppe or even Walmart. Taking Magnesium before be is a great natural way to relax your muscles & calm the nervous system.
I always want to hear your comments about my blog posts. Tell me what you do before bed to help relax.