Why is sleep so important?
A lot of essential processes happen when we sleep. It is a time for the mind and body to recharge, repair and fight illness. Most adults need to clock between 7-9 hours of sleep every night, while children and teenagers require significantly more.
However, the stress and distractions of modern life have paved the way for many of us to try to function on significantly less rest.
There’s still a lot we don’t know about why we need sleep, but it would be safe to say that sleep is essential for nearly every biological process in the body, including:
- muscle repair
- protein synthesis
- tissue growth
- hormone release
- learning and memory
If you’re trying to build muscle, adequate sleep is essential to achieve this. And if you’re trying to lose weight, prioritising sleep is also recommended. This is because a lack of sleep disrupts the hormones that influence appetite. Specifically, poor sleep leads to elevated ghrelin levels and reduced leptin.
Why does this matter? Ghrelin is the hunger hormone that lets your brain know you need to eat, and leptin is the hormone that lets your body know you are full. So, poor sleep patterns can cause you to overeat.
Also, when you’re feeling sleepy, you’re more likely to reach for high-calorie options for a quick fix. Studies have shown that just five nights of poor sleep puts you at higher risk of weight gain.
In the long term, poor sleep can have devastating effects on the body. Lack of sleep is associated with conditions such as:
- High blood pressure
- Cardiovascular disease
- Increased inflammation
- Elevated cortisol levels
- Insulin resistance leading to type 2 diabetes
Clearly, prioritising sleep is not only going to be good for your mood the following day but could also safeguard your health in the long term.