Sleep: Yes, it’s really that important

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Sleep can affect many things in our lives: fat loss, muscle building, cognitive function, mood, aging. There’s a reason why you’ll often hear that it’s so important to get seven to nine hours of sleep every night depending on your activity level.

Students have lots of priorities between classes and jobs. However, sleep and making sure you have enough time to rest your body should also be a top priority.

How do you know if you are not getting enough sleep?

Some noticeable signs of sleep deprivation are feeling drowsy during the day, routinely falling asleep within only five minutes of lying down or excessive daytime sleepiness.

If you are experiencing one of these symptoms, it’s important to step back for a minute and do what you need to get your sleep schedule back on track.

Did you know that your weight loss goals can be totally affected by your lack of sleep?

Unfortunately, even if you are going to the gym and pushing yourself it’s not going to be enough to reach your desired goals. Whether lack of sleep is due to stress, late nights out or a sleep disorder it results in an increased appetite the following day and sometimes cravings for unhealthy food.

Scientific research shows that sleep restriction boosts a signal that may increase the “hedonic qualities” of food intake.

This is not the only bad news. You might be thinking that your academic performance is not affected or with a pre-workout shake you can still max out all your workouts, but this is not exactly true. Not getting enough sleep at night can affect your performance the next day and for a prolonged period of time if you do not let yourself recover.

Just two consecutive nights of less than six hours of sleep could leave you sluggish for the next six days. Researchers found that staying up an extra hour, even if followed by a full night’s sleep, is correlated with slower performance the next day.

How are we compensating our lack of sleep every night?

People use extra caffeine beverages and naps during the day to try and make up for lost sleep. Caffeine is a stimulant, which is why it helps us wake up and feel more alert by blocking sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain and increasing adrenaline production.

However, there is no nutritional need for caffeine. Even so, we live in a society where apparently we would not be able to function if we do not have our warm cup of coffee every morning. The effects of caffeine start 15 minutes after it is consumed, and it persists for several hours once it is inside of our bodies.

Healthy sleep habits can make a big difference in your quality of life. If you have trouble sleeping, avoid naps during the afternoon and stick to a sleep schedule with the same bedtime and rising time even on the weekends. Try practicing a bedtime ritual such as setting your phone in “silent” mode and leaving it as far from your bed as possible 30 minutes before going to bed. If it helps, you can read a book and as soon as you start falling asleep, get ready to turn off the lights and go to sleep!

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