The Importance of Sleep
Aim to sleep at least 7-8 hours per night
Lack of sleep interferes with hormone production of melatonin, testosterone and Growth Hormone to name a few.
All the effort put into exercising gets cancelled out when you don’t sleep enough. You end up short circuiting the repair process.
Darken your bedroom so that its pitch black. Put black tape over alarm clocks and cable boxes.
Try to go to bed at the same time every day.
Avoid bright lights at least one hour before you hit the sack. Read a book, newspaper or magazine.
Let's do a shallow dive into sleep and why it is important to try and improve our sleep habits.
To begin with, we have to understand that a lot of the reasons why our bodies do well under certain conditions and poorly under others is because we have not evolved or adapted to this modern lifestyle.
The human body does not like change. Evolution happens s l o w l y. Depending who you talk to, humans first appeared about 2-3 million years ago. Modern humans (Homo Sapiens) evolved over all that time and first appeared about 100,000 years ago.
Ponder this for a moment. It took about 2 million years to get to more or less where we are now. Which just happened only 100,000 years ago.
physiologically we have not changed or evolved that much from our hunter gatherer cousins.
We hunted, we gathered. We were outside during the day exposed to sun light (yellow light) and then hung out in our caves under the moon and the stars (blue light) in the evenings. The earth spins, our brains can count that every 12 hours or so the sun will go up and down and voila, we are in tune with nature and it governs when we rest and when we’re active.
Think about what life was like 50 years ago. Now think about what it was like 100 years ago. How about 200 years ago?
The point is that, even though we don’t live in caves anymore and the most hunting we do is in the back of the supermarket freezer for our favorite ice cream flavor (why do they run out of Dulce de Leche so much!?!? grrr) physiologically we have not changed or evolved that much from our hunter gatherer cousins.
Our bodies are still in tune with circadian rhythms and exposing ourselves to too much light in the nighttime hours has the potential to interfere with our sleep patterns.
Furthermore, we have more distractions and artificial light to deal with than people did say 50 years ago and definitely not before the turn of the century. You see all this light messes with our brain chemistry so it takes longer for your body to get into deep sleep where all the repairing and building occurs.
Sleeping keeps you happy!
You may have read that the hormone melatonin is what helps us fall and stay asleep. Did you know that exposure to bright light before bed, even in the smallest amounts suppresses how much melatonin we produce? That social media update or web site you want to check right before bed could be short circuiting your ability to sleep well.
Try to avoid screens and bright lights at least 30-60 minutes before you hit the sack.
Also eliminate all sources of light in your bedroom. Get blackout curtains, put black tape over alarm clocks and cable boxes. The smallest amount of light is sensed by your body. You should be able to wave your hand in front of your face and not see a thing.
Lack of sleep has been linked to cancer, weakening our immune system, depression, interfering with our bodies ability to make hormones and lower libido to name a few.
I’ll end by just saying that if you’re not sleeping well, it does not matter how well you eat or how much exercise you do. Your results will be limited and you will find it much harder to make progress.