BOXFIT The Benefits of Sleep

Sleep has been called the new “status symbol” for good reason – it’s critically important to your health. And for many Indians, sleep is in short supply. Whether by choice or chance, many of us don’t get nearly enough shuteye, and we try to push through during the day despite feeling exhausted.

As many as 35 percent of us use smartwatches and smartphones to track our sleep habits (according to a recent study). Although sometimes feeling tired is a fact of life, if it’s a regular occurrence it can wreak havoc on your body. All sorts of things can lead to sleepless nights: stress, work demands, and life events like having a baby. Sometimes underlying health issues can also make it hard to get enough quality sleep.

The problem is, not getting enough sleep can affect your mood, your weight, your workouts and even your health down to the cellular level! The quality of your sleep also can have a powerful impact on your hormones and blood pressure… and the way you sleep can even affect how your body moves and feels.

This article will outline the benefits of sleep and why it’s important to make sleep a priority, how to get more of it, and show you ways to optimize your sleeping time for improved health, energy, focus, and performance. It’s amazing how great you feel when your body feels the benefits of sleep, is well-rested and energized for a new day!

HOW MUCH SLEEP DO YOU REALLY NEED?

The need for sleep varies from person to person – based on activity level, genetics, and lifestyle – but there are some general guidelines about how much shuteye we need based on our age.

Studies show people who regularly sleep more than 8 hours a night are generally healthier and live longer. On the flip side, sleeping LESS than 8 hours a night is associated with a host of problems from impaired immune function and heart disease to depression and obesity.

The most important indicator of your sleep is how you feel: if you’re tired or drowsy, you likely need more sleep in your life! Disrupted sleep also can impact how you feel. Your body generally cycles through 4 phases of sleep each night, each of which plays an important role in how your body functions. While it might seem that “sleeping away” a third of your time each day is unproductive, it actually helps make the remaining two-thirds of your day even more productive.

THE STAGES OF SLEEP

Sleep is now categorized into two basic types: non-REM (rapid eye movement) and REM. Your body cycles through these phases about every 90 minutes, with an estimated 75 percent of its time each night in non-REM sleep and 25 percent in REM.

N1 (formerly called stage 1):

This is the bridge between being awake and sleeping. 

This stage lasts only a few minutes and during it, your breathing and heart rate slows down and your muscles relax.

N2 (formerly called stage 2):

In this stage, you relax even more and your body temperature drops. 

This is one reason it’s important to sleep in a cool room whenever possible, so your body can easily lower its temp as it enters sleep cycles.

N3 (formerly called stages 3 & 4):

This is deep sleep, when your body goes into recovery mode. 

This is the hardest phase to wake up from. If you’ve ever awakened from a midday nap and felt confused about what day or time it was, it was because you had slipped into deep sleep. During this phase, your heart rate and breathing slows down to their lowest levels, and so does your brain waves.

This is the stage of sleep where your body repairs and restores your muscles and tissues, boosts immune function, releases growth hormone, and re energizes itself for the coming day.


REM (formerly called stage 5):

Your body enters its first REM cycle about 90 minutes after you fall asleep.

On a regular night, most of us have 5 or 6 REM cycles, with each REM cycle lasting longer as the night goes on. This is when most dreaming happens –– which is why we often wake up in the middle of a dream when the alarm clock goes off in the morning.

During REM, your brain becomes more active while your muscles relax even further. Your eyes move rapidly, your heart rate goes up, your blood pressure rises, and your breathing speeds up.

If you think of N3 (deep sleep) as your body’s recovery time, REM sleep is when your brain recovers, because it’s when it processes information gathered during your day. As you can imagine, this activity makes REM sleep hugely important for learning and memory.

SLEEP AND YOUR HEALTH

People who don’t get enough sleep are at higher risk for heart disease, diabetes, weight gain and obesity, depression and anxiety, and even certain kinds of cancer. Researchers are still investigating the links between sleep and disease. For instance, people who have sleep apnea – which causes them to wake up many times at night because of breathing problems – are especially at-risk for heart problems.

Scientists believe that without getting enough deep sleep, the body never fully lowers its heart rate or blood pressure, which can lead to higher blood pressure during the day and a greater chance of cardiovascular problems… even in younger people. In fact, one study showed that teens who didn’t sleep well had higher cholesterol and blood pressure levels as well as a higher body mass index.

Sleep and Your Weight

Sleep and obesity have a complicated relationship. When you don’t get enough sleep, it can disrupt the release of hormones like ghrelin (which makes you hungry) and leptin (which tells you you’re full). Have you ever noticed when you’re tired, you feel hungrier and eat more? That’s your hormones at work.

Brain imaging studies hint that when you don’t get enough sleep, your brain responds differently to unhealthy foods, which makes you more likely to eat them. Plus, not sleeping enough causes some other metabolic issues, including how your body regulates blood sugar levels.

One study found that after 6 nights of sleeping only 4 hours, subjects lost 40 percent of their ability to break down glucose – a key factor in weight gain and developing diabetes.

HOW YOUR SLEEPING POSITION AFFECTS YOU

Did you know that some sleeping positions can give you backaches, headaches, premature wrinkles, and even impact your squats? It’s true!

If you decide to try to switch up your sleeping position, be patient. The best bet, according to experts, is start out each night in your desired sleeping position and over time it will seem more natural.

Here’s a roundup of basic sleeping positions from the National Sleep Foundation:

Fetal position

  • Most popular position, at 41 percent.
  • Good position for people who snore as it keeps airways open.
  • Studies hint this position helps your brain do a better job of clearing waste that can lead to neurological diseases (Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s).
  • Curling up too tightly can restrict your breathing and leave you feeling stiff and sore.
  • Try to extend your body and place a pillow between your knees.

On your side

  • Top choice of 15 percent of people.
  • Can decrease acid reflux and stop back and neck pain.
  • Helps prevent snoring and sleep apnea.
  • If you’re a side sleeper and your knees cave in while doing squats, you might have tight muscles because of how your legs are positioned all night, according to the NASM.
  • Try sleeping with a pillow between your knees.
  • Sleeping with your face smushed into a pillow all night can cause wrinkles.

On your back

  • 8 percent sleep on their backs.
  • Best for preventing aches and pains as body rests in a neutral position.
  • Unless your head is elevated and supported by pillows, you can experience snoring, sleep apnea, and acid reflux.

On your stomach

  • Go-to pick for 7 percent of us.
  • It’s good for stopping snoring.
  • It’s bad for just about everything else.
  • Puts excess pressure on your muscles and joints.
  • Sleeping with your head sideways can make it hard to keep your airway open plus cause neck pain.
  • Try sleeping with a pillow under your forehead so your breathing is unobstructed.

YOUR BODY ON SLEEP: AMAZING!

The benefits of sleep are vast. Getting 8 hours of quality sleep every night makes a HUGE difference in how you move, feel, and live!


CHECK OUT THESE BENEFITS OF SLEEP:

  • You wake up feeling energized, with fewer aches and pains.
  • Your immune system gets a boost, helping you fight off colds and illness.
  • You have lower risk of developing serious conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
  • Your skin will have fewer breakouts.
  • Researchers believe this has to do with the regulation of hormones in your body.
  • Your eyes are clearer and your overall skin condition improves, looking smoother and less wrinkled, because your body has adequate repair and recovery time.
  • You have fewer cravings. When you are well-rested, your body has better control over your hunger hormones (leptin and ghrelin).
  • Your focus and memory improve, boosting your performance and reducing your risk of getting injured.
  • You’re happier! Research shows that when you get enough sleep, your mood improves and stress levels drop.

All great benefits of sleep!

We hope this article about the benefits of sleep helps you sleep better so you can enjoy your waking hours even more! Your recovery time – sleep! – is an incredibly important part of your success.

If you are ready to rediscover your energy and smash each day, then understanding the benefits of sleep is important so make sure you are supercharging your sleep {add link to 17 tips article here}.

And if you want to take advantage of that renewed energy and you enjoy high energy fitness classes featuring some great music brought straight to your home live and on demand, then come check out our growing library of workouts at Boxfit.

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