I like to sleep. A lot. It really hit home for me in my freshman year of college. One night, the fire alarm went off and was echoing loudly through the dorm halls. Everyone jumped out of bed and made their way outside. Students assembled in the cold, waiting for the go-ahead signal to return inside, as it wasn't a real fire.
Or so I was told.
I didn't know what had happened because I didn’t wake up during the loud alarm. I was in a potentially burning dorm room! The next day, my friends told me that they had attempted to get me up, but I resisted in my slumbered stupor. I guess I really do love my sleep. I'm not a morning person, nor am I a caffeine addict. Sleep plays an important role in my life.
We all enjoy feeling well-rested. However, we tend to sacrifice sleep for work, responsibilities, and activities we love, including working out. Miles O'Brien of PBS said, "Our illusory quest to push the sleep envelope makes us fatter, sicker, sadder, stupider, and, ultimately, less long-lived."
Here are 5 Reasons You Must Sleep to Be Fit:
1. We’re Not Dolphins
Dolphins sleep by resting half of their brain at a time. While one side of their brain is in deep sleep, the other is awake and able to make important conscious decisions, such as coming up for air to breathe. But we aren't dolphins. We're humans, so we need time dedicated to sleep.
2. Faster Metabolism
Sleep lowers cortisol and increases growth hormones. Both reduced cortisol levels and higher growth hormones increase metabolism and improve the body's ability to build muscle.
3. Muscle Recovery
Ever notice how a good workout makes you sore? Turns out it’s not because of lactic acid buildup, as many suspect. This soreness is the result of "microfractures in the muscle cells," which are basically tiny injuries in our muscles. Sleep facilitates muscle building and expedites recovery.
4. Beauty Rest
Turns out, you really do get better-looking while you sleep. According to Fitness Magazine, "Slumber is nature's most powerful beauty treatment." Rest improves complexion, fights wrinkles, and strengthens hair.
5. Fat Reduction
As odd as it may sound, sleeping more leads to weighing less. While we sleep, our bodies balance two hormones that control hunger: ghrelin and leptin. Therefore, it is no surprise that studies have revealed that limited sleep increases our appetites, and lack of sufficient sleep is linked with obesity.
We know sleep is good for us, and I hope that knowledge of these facts make it a higher priority for you. The hard part is fitting it into our busy lives. We need to think of sleep as part of our lives. As Men's Fitness' Rob Sulaver put it, "Sleep isn’t when you’re not living. It’s actually when you’re living better." We'd love to hear how you make time for sleep in your busy life – whether it’s going to bed early, carefully prioritizing your activities, napping, or other tactics. Comment below, on our Facebook page at facebook.com/flytefitness, or tweet us at @flytefitness.
Be Flyte Fit,
Co-Founder & CEO