In a one word answer, yes.
Sleep is extremely important, and (myself included) many of us can often skip a couple of hours kip in exchange of; finishing bits of work, going out with friends, reading our favourite book, etc. And whilst this is such a common occurrence for so many people – What are the actual implications on our health?
You see although our eyes are shut tight, there’s still loads of cool things going on inside our bodies whilst we’re sleeping, and this is why it’s so important to make a point of getting a sufficient amount of sleep at night. Take a look:
We release Growth Hormones whilst we’re sleeping!💪
Going to sleep signals our body to make a start on repairing itself. As we start to digress into the deepest stage of sleep, this cues our bodies to release growth hormones. These are the hormones which help us repair damaged muscles and tissue. For example, building the broken down muscle fibres we’ve torn whilst exercising back up to full strength. To repair our muscles to the fullest, our bodies supply them with higher amounts of blood which provides the muscles with the nourishment they need to grow. So in theory, sleep is when we make muscle gains.
Sleeping is when our brains tidy up!
In the dreaming sleep stage (where the postman who delivered your ASOS order turns into a superhero and you two suddenly fly to space whilst holding a glass of Gin – Yes, I have actually dreamt this🙄), your brain is still highly active. This stage is also known as ‘Rapid Eye Movement’ sleep, and in this time your brain starts to process all of the information you have taken in throughout that day. It organises your thoughts and starts to filter the important information – Basically completing your own internal filing. And as we can all sympathise, filing isn’t the most exciting job in the world, but your brain realises the importance of this task, and makes room for new information the next day!
Sleeping lets our hearts take a break!
When we go to sleep, our heart isn’t required to work as hard to pump blood around the body. Generally speaking, this means that in the majority of people our heart rate slows down a little and our blood pressure drops slightly. Sleeping is a time when our heart can relax, and therefore essential to keep our hearts healthy and happy.❤️
They don’t call it beauty sleep for nothing!
Those wonderful growth hormones which help us build strong muscles don’t stop there! This type of hormone is also released into our skin cells to replenish them and repair the cells from daily exposure. Not to sound like a cheesy advert, but have you ever woken up feeling ‘radiant’ and ‘glowing’? This is because when you sleep, water accumulates under the skin which can make it appear more plump, youthful and smoother. Sleeping Beauty, your secret’s out!😉
It is recommended that adults aged 18+ have between 7-9 hours of sleep every single night for our bodies to function properly. But what can happen if we don’t catch enough Zz’s?
Passing up a good night sleep takes its toll differently on every individual person, but in the majority the effects of not getting enough sleep can lead to:
- Feeling sleepy, tired and lethargic during the day
- Poor memory
- Finding it hard to concentrate
- Anxiety and depression
- Difficulty thinking or being creative
- Lack of sex drive
- (Longer term) Chronic health problems, such as Obesity, Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease
- Relationship problems
- Short temperament
So what can we do to make sure we’re getting enough sleep at night?
As someone who always finds herself with more work than she can handle a lot of the time, I totally understand that life can easily get in the way of a good night’s sleep. So here’s a few tips if you’re finding it hard to fit in 8 hours of snoozing.
1. Set your body clock
Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day (including weekends). This will help your body adjust and getting in those essential hours will become habit.
2. Try to ‘wind down’ before bedtime
Try to make sure you relax for at least half an hour before going to sleep. For example – Take a nice relaxing hot bath, read a chapter of your favourite book, listen to some calming music etc. This will help you to relax and therefore make it easier to fall asleep naturally.
3. Avoid stimulants in the evening
I realise that many of us can only fit time for our workouts in the evening due to work/child commitments etc. But if you can, try to avoid stimulants (such as coffee) after 5pm. Stimulants increase your heart rate and help keep us energetic, and so keeping them at a minimum in the evening time will help you to fall asleep faster when needed.
Bare in mind that sleep should never be treated as an ‘after-thought’. It’s a vital period of time for our bodies to replenish and develop – So next time you’re feeling sleepy, go ahead and catch some Zz’s!😴