Sleep as the foundation of health
“Amazing breakthrough! Scientists have discovered a revolutionary new treatment that will help you live longer. It boosts your memory and makes you more creative. It makes you look better, keeps you slim and reduces food cravings: it protects against cancer and dementia. It wards off colds and flu illnesses. It lowers the risk of heart attacks and strokes, not to mention diabetes, and even makes you happier, less depressed and less anxious. Interested?”
The claims of this ad for an imaginary study seem too good to be true at first glance. However, they are actually true. There is no area of our health on which sleep does not have a repairing effect. It is precisely this extremely important reparative effect that is considerably curbed by just one night of six hours of sleep. Ten nights of sleep with only six hours per night is even equal to one all-nighter, and a weekend is not enough to recover from that. Many of you will now be thinking to yourself that you have been sleeping only six hours a night for what feels like an eternity and are doing quite well with it. The deceptive thing about this, and at the same time logical for humans as creatures of habit, is that you also become accustomed to the chronic lack of sleep and the associated lack of energy. So, objectively speaking, we often don’t notice that we are lacking sleep. So the next time you have a mental lapse, even though you feel physically well rested, ask yourself how many hours you slept on average last week. This article, however, is by no means meant to be all bad news and keep you from a busy social life, but to show you how sleep, or lack thereof, affects your workouts and eating habits, and to give you some guidance on how to get more restful sleep.
In the sweaty, endorphin-filled day-to-day of fitness, you’re often faced with the same questions: What’s the fastest way to build muscle and lose fat? Which exercises are most effective? How many sets and reps should I do? What and how much of what should I eat and when? Or can I allow myself something sweet on the weekend? If clients do not notice significant progress despite following the plans and suggestions, the request for a new training plan and information about additional supplements besides the already known protein shake after training often follows. However, before considering a new training plan, the client’s recovery should always be addressed first and, if necessary, the consequences of lack of sleep should be pointed out. Terms like supercompensation and overtraining have become commonplace among clients, but most don’t know what goes on between these two terms. So what happens to our bodies, weakened from training, when we don’t give ourselves enough sleep?
Logically, we get tired earlier the next day. Lactic acid is produced more quickly, the oxygen saturation of the blood drops more quickly, and the vital factor of perspiration for cooling the body, which is essential in sports and elsewhere, is inhibited. Since the body cannot optimally take care of simple, training-related inflammations during the night, the risk of injury also increases. Energy in the form of glucose and glycogen can no longer be stored optimally. What can result from this is that in unslept people, despite weight reduction, 70 percent of this weight comes from lean body mass, i.e. muscle. On the other hand, in well-rested people, fat accounts for over 50 percent of the weight reduction. In an optimally trained person, all these processes suffer equally.
Nutritionally the consequences are nevertheless already somewhat more well-known. Everyone has experienced ravenous appetite, which is mistakenly attributed to the fact that the body needs more energy in the form of calories due to lack of rest. This is actually (1) the braking of the prefrontal cortex, which provides thoughtful and controlled decision-making, and (2) the hormones leptin (signaling satiety) and ghrelin (signaling hunger), which are out of balance, and along with increased levels of endocannabinoids in the blood, make for a dangerous mix for our eating behaviors. It is as if our brain reverts to a “primitive pattern of uncontrolled response” and we are at the mercy of our urges.
However, so that you are not completely at the mercy of your urges and can avoid the increasing diseases of civilization such as burn-out, here is some final advice that I hope you will take to heart:
- Stick to fixed bedtime and wake-up times, even on weekends (this is also the most important point).
- Give your eyes sunlight within 30-60 minutes after getting up. If it is still dark in the morning, bridge with artificial light until the sun has risen.
- Do not drink coffee or caffeinated beverages until 90-120 minutes after waking up. Give your body time to wake itself up so that the waking process does not become dependent on caffeine.
- Keep in mind that caffeine has a half-life of 5-7 hours. So if you consume an energy drink containing 180 mg of caffeine in the afternoon, it may prevent you from falling asleep, and your sleep quality may also suffer.
- Do not exercise too late in the day, at least 2-3 hours before sleeping.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages before sleeping.
- Eating too big meals reduces the quality of sleep. Try not to eat anything 2-3 hours before sleeping. Also, do not drink large amounts anymore.
- No more power naps after 3:00 p.m. or you may have trouble falling asleep.
- Take time to wind down at the end of the day. Stop using electronic devices one hour before sleep.
- Dim your lights after sunset and position your light sources below eye level. This signals the beginning of sunset to the brain.
- Your bedroom should be cool, dark and free of appliances. Put clocks out of sight.
- If you wake up during the night and can’t get back to sleep, don’t toss and turn in bed, but get up and do a quiet activity (like reading or knitting) until you get tired again.
– Walker. The big book on sleep. S. 151.
– Fietze. On good and restful sleep. S. 84.
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Name: Odrljin Domagoj
Profession: Fitness Instructor
The first Basefit.ch studio was opened in 2008 with the aim of making fitness in Switzerland accessible to everyone at affordable prices, in geographical proximity and in good quality. This concept remains unchanged to this day and continues to be limited to the truly essential: