The Importance of Sleep for Good Health
Two key factors come to mind when we think of being healthy: diet and exercise. But the importance of adequate sleep shouldn’t be overlooked either, no matter what your fitness goals are.
Think about how you feel when you’re tired: You have trouble making good decisions, and you’re not as present or aware. How does this affect your work life or school life? How does it affect personal relationships? Are you satisfied with your home life either? The importance of sleep and rest is evident in almost every aspect of our lives.
“I think sleep is one of the most important things we can prioritize, but it remains something we don’t think about in our day-to-day lives,” says health and wellness coach Caroline Jordan. “We think, ‘Eat right, exercise, manage stress,’ but really, sleep is everything.”
Sometimes Dr. Larry encounters patients who are curious about substitutes for sleep. The quick answer? There are none. No supplement or vitamin will give you the health benefits of sleep. The importance of getting enough sleep, which should be around eight or nine hours a night, is paramount to feeling energetic and ready to knock out your goals.
The importance of sleep for weight loss — or muscle building — has also been proven as well. Your growth hormones that repair the body and help burn fat and build muscles reach peak levels while your body is resting. If you’re religiously dieting and working out, you aren’t going to see as much progress if you’re not also reaping the benefits of good sleep habits.
“If you’re eating the healthy food – all the protein and healthy carbs – and you’re doing your workouts, but you’re only sleeping four or six hours at night, you’re not going to grow as much,” Dr. Larry says. “You’re not going to have that restorative function of it.”
Sleep, says Dr. Larry, is underemphasized.
How much sleep should the average person get?
While how much sleep you should be getting can vary based on your personal habits, the National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults ages 26 to 64 get seven to nine hours of sleep per night. This number shifts drastically, of course, for infants and preschoolers, but remains roughly the same after an individual reaches age 18.
How can you make sleep a part of your wellness plan?
The National Sleep Foundation also provides tips for making healthy sleep habits a part of your life. A few of those suggestions include:
- Sticking to a sleep schedule. And yes, this means going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time on weekends as you do on weekdays.
- Developing a routine to relax before bedtime.
- Avoiding naps if you have trouble getting a good night’s rest.
- Making your room ideal for sleeping. A bedroom should be between 60 and 67 degrees.
- Having a comfortable bed.
- Staying away from alcohol, cigarettes or heavy meals in the two to three hours before bedtime.
If you’re feeling under the weather or aren’t seeing the results you’re striving for in your workouts — consider your sleep routine. You may be able to solve the problem just by catching a few more Zs!