Your secret weapon to success: SLEEP
Written By: Nicholas Sarruda
Do you know the one thing that can change the successes you are seeing in the gym, at your work, and within your family? You may be thinking of a certain supplement, winning the lottery or a new habit-like reading a book. Actually, the one thing you can do to immediately boost your cognitive function and have more success is something you already do. We do it every night, it is called SLEEP. It is the one thing that can have a massive impact on everyday either positively or negatively. It is better than any new supplement, any fad diet, and it is the one thing that many of us chronically deprive ourselves of.
To get adequate sleep and be capable of functioning at a “high” level adult human beings need 7-9 hours of sleep per night. It is estimated that 37-40% of US adults are sleep deprived. Sleep deprivation seems to be something that a lot of us tend to put on a pedestal, and wear like a badge. Telling co-workers and friends how you worked a “70 hour” week and “grind” harder than they do, all because you do just fine on a 5 hours of sleep per night. However, we know that this is simply not true, especially in the USA where sleep deprivation is actually costing us $400 billion/year in GDP (gross domestic product ex. below), which is entirely inefficient for our economy. Sleep, is also effecting us just as much in the gym, at the office and therefore in our home lives as well.
Getting a full 7-9 hours will raise all indicators of mortality in a more positive direction. People who sleep 7-9 hours per night have 13% less chance of dying early compared to those getting 6 hours or less. Those with sleep deprivation also have higher rates of Alzheimer’s, high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attack, and diabetes among many other chronic diseases. Matthew Walker, a professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California , Berkeley put it, “being awake for any amount of time exposes the brain to light forms of brain damage”, it is sleep that repairs the brain every night and prepares us for the tasks the next day will bring.
A good night’s sleep will give you more energy to work out the next day, increase recovery by releasing more HGH during the night, lead to less food cravings, and increase your conversations and mood throughout your day. So, if you are sleeping enough you may find yourself getting more out of each work out, overall happier, and getting injured much less. There is a reason that athletes like LeBron James sleep at a minimum 9 hours/night. A study found that for people trying to lose weight, the group who got enough sleep lost 56% more body fat than the group who only got 5-6 hours of sleep, although both groups did lose similar amounts of weight (preserving lean muscle). Sleep impacts the hormones that make you hungry (ghrelin) and full (leptin); when you are not sleeping enough, your levels of ghrelin go up more and leptin levels dip. This leads to boredom eating, snacking and poor food choices; all which affect your performance and fitness largely.
For some, taking on the task of getting to bed earlier and getting enough sleep can be an overwhelming thought but here are some tips to help you the next time you go to bed:
- Remove any exposure to “blue light” at least 1 hour before bed
- Removing TV’s, cell phones and any other screens before bed helps your mind get ready for sleep and prepare the mind to rest. Idea: Instead opt to read a book!
- Lack of blue light and really any light exposure, will help your body to boost melatonin production and increase REM sleep
- Try a magnesium supplement
- You can try boiling an organic banana with the peel on in some cinnamon and drink it as a tea. The peel releases an organic form of magnesium when boiled
- Magnesium helps lower cortisol levels before bed which helps the mind relax
- It also helps muscles relax which will promote a more “sleepy” feeling
- Get on a sleep schedule
- Commit to getting to bed an hour earlier and waking up an hour later if necessary
- Getting in touch with your circadian (bed between 8:30-10:00pm wake up: 5:00-7:30am) rhythm will make falling asleep and waking up easier
- Create a perfect sleep environment
- Limit the noise in the room as well as minimizing light
- Make sure your room and your bed is cool (open a window, use a cooling pad-very popular trend)
- Upgrade your mattress
- Practice mindfulness before bed ex. Meditations, prayer, unpacking the series of events from your day (from breakfast-dinner)
So, the next time you are thinking of staying up late to “get ahead” in the workplace or in the gym you might want to reconsider and instead opt to get to bed earlier to gain that extra edge. In just a few weeks’ time you may find yourself with a lower resting heart rate, better fitness, in a happier mood, and with a lot less aches and pains. Sleep is the one thing that you can start doing tonight that will maximize your quality of life, fitness, success and provide you with the greatest marginal benefit. An extra hour can literally add years to your life! So get a comfy pillow turn off the lights and get sleeping.