Sleep More, Live Better (Why Sleep Is Key To Human Performance)

Sleep doesn’t just feel great, it’s key to having the energy, focus and discipline you need to achieve goals. Here’s how to iron out your sleep issues and get more ZZZs.

Why does sleep matter?

Sleep isn’t a luxury, it’s an absolute necessity. Experts still don’t really understand why humans need sleep, but they all agree that we do. It’s an essential function, like breathing, drinking water, and eating.

Sleep allows our bodies to repair and regenerate, and our brains to process information. Without enough sleep, our bodies will struggle to fight off disease and our brains will not be able to function properly.

If your goals in life involve growth, achievement, and performing at a high level, you can’t afford to skimp on sleep.

What happens when we sleep?

Body – repairs cells, restores energy, releases hormones

Brain – processes information, makes new connections, eliminates waste

Nerves – cells communication and reorganise, which supports cognitive function

The science of sleep

The more you know about sleep, the easier it will become to take it seriously. You have an internal body clock (the circadian rhythm) which operates on a 24 hour cycle. This body clock controls when you feel awake, and when you start to get tired and eventually want to sleep.

Levels of adenosine in the brain drive this sleep/wake urge, increasing during the day (as you get more tired) and breaking down during sleep. There’s nothing you can do to get rid of that adenosine except sleep!

Light also plays a key factors in your circadian rhythm, with loss of natural light signalling release of melatonin and increase of morning sunlight boosting cortisol. Something to bear in mind if you spend a lot of time looking at screens.

What is a sleep cycle?

Sleep happens in four stages, which is why it’s important to get enough unbroken sleep. There are three stages of non-REM sleep and one stage of REM sleep. The third stage of non-REM sleep is your deepest and most restorative sleep. A full sleep cycle takes 90-110 minutes.

How much sleep do we need?

Most adults need 7-9 hours sleep. Some genuinely need more. Very few people can honestly do well on less than 7 hours sleep. If you think you can, experiment with getting more and track how you feel. There’s a good chance you are kidding yourself (or listening to societal messages about muscling through on inadequate sleep).

How does sleep help us perform at our best?

Sleep is highly neuroprotective, and not getting enough sleep will leave you vulnerable to attention lapses, delayed reaction, low mood, and reduced cognition.

This 2015 study into the correlations between the brain and sleep found that sleeping well relives stress and depression, prolongs alertness and memory recall, and helps us process simple tasks at a higher level. This study states “there is plenty of evidence indicating that sleep is crucial” 

How to prioritise sleep

I know it’s not easy to sleep 7-9 hours a night every night. But I promise you it’s the one thing that will almost instantly help you feel better, make healthier choices, support long term health, be in a better mood, and be more productive.

  • Work backwards from your wake up time
  • Get serious about going to bed 8 hours before you need to wake up
  • Don’t mess about downstairs, get upstairs and start getting ready for bed
  • Write down a to-do list if that helps you switch off and stop worrying
  • Keep note of how you feel the day after a good night’s sleep – the evidence can be enough incentive to keep doing it

Do you need help with daily habits like sleep, snacking, stress and exercise? My 1-2-1 coaching programmes help busy people like you gradually change the lifestyle habits that make the biggest difference.

Get in touch to see how I can help you.

Coach Joseph Webb.

‘The number one rated Personal Trainer In Henley and Oxfordshire’

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