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How Important Is Sleep For Recovery?

Ever feel like there’s more work to do than hours in the day? It’s easy to get side-tracked and in turn, get behind. Blame it on the media overload that we call life. Maybe you just got caught up watching your favorite Netflix show at night and forgot that you had to be at work in five hours. Priorities.

Whatever the reason, it tends to be those couple hours of sleep in between Netflix and work that are most likely to be sacrificed when balancing health, hustle, and play. But as it turns out, losing sleep can be one of the most harmful habits we put ourselves through.

In this article, we explain how much sleep we really need for recovery and how important it is for brain, muscle, and body.

A Sleepless Society

According to the Journal of Neuroscience1, artificial lighting, longer work commuting times, night-shift work, and the increasing availability of computers screens, phone screens, and television screens have all contributed to shortened sleep times.

In turn, sleep loss may lead to negative impacts on the brain and on muscle, metabolism, and immunity.


Lack of Sleep Can Ruin Your Brain

Furthermore, the Journal of Neuroscience states that, staying awake for long periods of time can kill off neurons that are critical for cognition and alertness.

Researchers found that extended periods of being awake can lead to dramatic cell loss. Loss of neurotransmitters can lead to more negative and exaggerated emotions and thoughts and even memory loss.

We all know the next-day feeling after a sleepless night; the inability to stay focused or energized. This is a side effect of dramatic cell loss. While we may be able to get by for a day or two functioning at 50 percent, the long-term effects of sleep loss on the brain are even worse.

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One study2 has shown that those who suffer from insomnia are at a higher risk for dementia later in life. According to this three-year study, people with insomnia are twice as likely to develop dementia than those who achieve adequate sleep. Yikes.


Good Luck Building Muscle Without Sleep

Lifting heavy weight but getting no results? Well, not getting enough sleep may inhibit your ability to grow lean muscle mass. According to recent studies 3, sleep is key for cellular, organic, and systemic functions of organisms, and lack of sleep can be potentially harmful to health.

In other words, lack of sleep contributes to hormonal changes, leading to an increase in cortisol (a stress hormone), and a reduction in testosterone, which we need for muscle growth.

Additionally, sleep loss decreases the activity of protein pathways and increases degradation pathways, contributing to the loss of muscle mass and hindering muscle recovery.

Simply put, all the cards are stacked against muscle gain when you’re losing sleep. If you’re trying to gain muscle mass, you may want to aim for at least seven to eight hours of sleep after weight training.


Lack of Sleep Can Make You Sick

Have you ever noticed that after a tough, stressful week, you caught the common cold? Well, sleep deprivation can alter the immune system.

In fact, research has shown that even partial sleep deprivation can increase white blood cell count, which is what happens when we’re sick. Sleep loss also contributes to an overall decrease in immune cell and metabolic function.


Sleep Loss May Increase Blood Pressure & Weight Gain

In another study 4, researchers establish a clear connection between losing sleep and gaining weight and have even attributed sleep loss to America’s obesity epidemic.

They report that women who sleep five or fewer hours per night were at a greater risk for gaining weight, and in general, weighed more than women who slept the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep a night.

This is because sleep plays a crucial role in regulating the appetite hormones leptin and ghrelin, and in your metabolism’s overall speed, as well. Lastly, sleep is connected to blood pressure, and a lack of sleep can possibly lead to hypertension.

Sleep epidemiologist Jim Gangwisch of the University of Columbia states that, “When we sleep, our blood pressure dips by 10 to 20 percent. So the less we sleep, the higher our average twenty-four-hour blood pressure is going to be, and over time that can entrain our blood pressure to operate at a higher equilibrium.”

Take Home Message

So if you want to perform at 100%, sleep is a very important factor. Almost all doctors and health professionals recommend getting seven to eight hours of sleep every night. A loss of sleep can impact your mental reaction time, your attitude, memory, muscle retention, immune system, and weight. Do yourself a favor and prioritize sleep tonight.

This post was written by the folks at myslumberyard.com 

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Ian Roden

Ian Roden

Writer and expert

A Fordham University graduate, Ian majored in communications and media studies with a focus in journalism and a minor in anthropology during his time at college. Here, he wrote for the university newspaper ranked top ten in the nation.

A competitive athlete for most of his life, Ian has spent almost a decade working as an ocean rescue lifeguard in New Jersey. Within that role, he has competed in endurance sports competitions against other lifeguards for the last 8 years.

As a lifelong surfer, Ian spends most of his spare time in the ocean regardless of the time of year. He also enjoys distance running, photography, and frequently spending entirely too much money on concert tickets.

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