Sleep is something that I’m sure most of us take for granted. It’s just something that we need to do. We know that we should be getting around 8 hours a night but who has time? There’s so many things to do in the day, how much can a few hours less sleep matter? Turns out a LOT. In addition to the obvious points of not being so tired and being less grouchy, there’s a wealth of other health benefits we could be feeling from getting the full 8 hours.
Improved work performance.
Getting your full 8 hours can benefit your work performance in a multitude of ways. Being tired can affect your cognition, decision making and attention span. After a bad night’s sleep people have been found to have more trouble solving math and logic problems.
We’ve all had a day when you just can’t seem to remember things, be it leaving your keys somewhere or forgetting to pick up a bag to take with you to work. When we sleep a brain consolidates and processes our memories from the day. In not getting enough sleep this process gets interrupted and memories may not be stored correctly, so that’s why you forgot that all important report you needed to hand in! This increase in memory can also benefit those trying to learn new skills. Practice will get you so far, but sleeping can improve your overall performance!
As well as improving memory, sleep can help restructure and reorganize memories resulting in better creativity. Harvard university research found that people strengthen the emotional components of memories during sleep which can help the creativity process.
Improved weight control.
Now don’t go thinking lounging in bed all day will lead to having a trim and healthy body! However research from the University of Chicago found that dieters that we better rested were losing more body fat, rather than those that were lethargic who lost muscle mass. People who sleep less are also more likely to feel hungry, which leads to snacking. This is due to the leptin hormone, which plays a part in feeling fill. When the body has less sleep, leptin levels drop and consequently you’re more likely to eat more. Of course as well as the science side of it there’s the simple fact that if you are better rested you’re much more likely to have the energy and motivation to exercise.
Improving your work out.
If you live a healthy lifestyle getting enough sleep is super important. Research from Stanford University found that basketball players that rested for 10 hours a night over 7 to 8 weeks had an improved average sprint time, improved stamina and less daytime fatigue. Now there’s not many people that can have the luxury of getting 10+ hours of sleep per night but the evidence is clear that athletic endurance can be improved with more sleep.
Furthermore, you produce the most growth hormones while you sleep. This helps calcium retention, promotes fat loss, reduces fat storage and improves your immune system!
It’s all very easy to preach the benefits of more sleep, but for some people it’s not that easy! Well first of all I have to sing the praises of exercise. It’s been found that those that get an average of 150 minutes of exercise a week see improved sleep and feel more alert through the day! It’s a cycle of more sleep means better exercise benefits, which means better sleep.
One topic which has been in the news recently is the highly praised “4-7-8” breathing trick. Influenced by yoga breathing, this technique allows the lungs to become fully charged with air, allowing more oxygen into the body and promoting a state of calm. So how do you do it?
First of all, place the tip of your tongue behind your front teeth, as is common with yoga breathing methods.
Exhale any air through your mouth, making a whooshing noise.
Close your mouth and inhale for a mental count of 4 seconds.
Hold this breath for 7 seconds.
Exhale, over a count of 8 seconds, making a whooshing noise.
This counts as one breath cycle, repeat this three more times to make a total of four cycles. It takes some practice but tests have shown it can allow people to fall asleep in as little as one minute. This exercise should be practiced at least two times throughout the day and can help reduce stress, curb cravings and control anger.
So there you have it. You could be reaping a load of rewards, from health to work to beauty from something that you do anyway, is completely free and takes no effort. What’s not to love?!