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How did you sleep last night?
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Imagine this: you're unlocking the full potential of your brain, feeling invincible in body and mind, and radiating positivity from every pore.
The key to unlocking this potential? Try your body’s ultimate performance tool: quality sleep.
While a single night of poor shut-eye isn’t the end of the world, the cumulative impacts of quality rest are nothing short of transformative.
Join us as we explore the real-life magic that consistent, quality sleep can bring to your mental and physical health.
We’re so underslept that the CDC has labeled it a ‘public health epidemic’.
Luke Zocchi may look good when he’s underslept, but he’s definitely not operating at 100%.
How much sleep do you really need?
As a society, we’re so underslept that the CDC has labeled it a “public health epidemic”. More than one-third of adults aren’t getting enough sleep each night in the US, while almost two-thirds of adults worldwide feel they don’t sleep well.
So how much is enough? When it comes to how much sleep is enough, there is no magic number. Between 7 and 9 hours appears to be ideal for most adults, but it will vary from person to person. Here are the Sleep Foundation’s baseline recommendations:
- Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours each day
- Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours each day
- Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours each day
- Preschoolers (3-5): 10-13 hours each day
- School age children (6-13): 9-11 hours each day
- Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours each day
- Younger adults (18-25): 7-9 hours
- Adults (26-64): 7-9 hours each day
- Older adults (65+): 7-8 hours each day
If you’re feeling well-rested and don’t have symptoms of excessive sleepiness (or cans of energy drink littering your desk), whatever amount of sleep you are getting is probably enough.
9 reasons to make quality sleep a priority
There isn't really a downside to getting adequate sleep. But a consistent lack of sleep can impact your health and performance in more ways than you might think.
Shhh… memory downloading in process.
1. Your brain downloads memories
When you dream during the REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep, your brain is sifting through all the information you came across during the day and processing memories. Sleep poorly and you won’t just struggle to learn and retain new info (so much for that test you were studying for…), but will actually begin forgetting stuff you already know.
A good night’s rest will help you to bank today’s information on your internal hard drive and set you up for a solid day of new learning tomorrow.
2. You’re less likely to get injured
Ever notice that you’re more clumsy when you’re tired? Healthy sleep improves reaction times, alertness and concentration.
On the workout mat, poor sleep could lead to sloppy form and injury. On the job, the consequences can be even more serious. Sleepy employees are “70% more likely to be involved in workplace accidents”, while drivers who get behind the wheel with 6 hours of sleep or less “are 33% more likely to have an accident”.
Luke’s tips: 1) Go to bed to avoid injury. 2) Find friends who don’t laugh at your pain.
3. Your brain cleans itself
Your brain has an inbuilt waste management system.
While you’re in deep sleep, it cleans itself out via the glymphatic system – a series of vessels that wash fluid through your brain, distributing essential molecules and removing waste build-up as it goes.
Among this waste are abnormal proteins known as amyloids, including amyloid beta which is associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Amyloid beta accumulates as you age, forming plaque on the brain that can interfere with the synapses. This is likely the major factor in the development of Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.
In a vicious cycle, amyloid plaques can also interfere with sleep quality – thereby increasing the buildup of plaques and further harming sleep. This feedback loop then leads to increasingly poor brain health and the probable onset of dementia.
One study even concluded that getting enough high-quality sleep could halve the risk of developing dementia.
4. Your mental health gets a boost
Quality sleep is closely linked to emotional well-being and mood regulation. Research has consistently shown that poor sleep is linked with increased irritability, mood swings, and a higher risk of developing mood disorders like depression and anxiety.
Lack of sleep disrupts how your brain processes emotions, which can make it harder to handle the stress of everyday life (ever had a meltdown over something minor when you’re tired?).
On the flip side, regular quality sleep promotes emotional stability, positive mood, and overall psychological well-being.
Sleep and your immune system have a codependent relationship.
5. Your immunity soars
While you’re sleeping, the body repairs and rejuvenates itself, making sure all the cells and tissues get the TLC they need. Ahh, feeling better already.
Drink all the immune-boosting tea you like – if you don’t get enough sleep, you’re probably going to get sick.
This is because sleep and your immune system have a codependent relationship: immune response to an illness (such as a fever) can impact your sleep, while getting plenty of sleep can boost your immune system functioning.
When the donuts start talking back, it’s time to get more sleep.
6. Your hunger hormones chill out
You already know that you’re not going to train at your best when you’re exhausted. This poor performance can mean double trouble for your goals, compounding the impact a lack of sleep is having on your hormones – specifically, a hormone called ghrelin.
When you’re underslept, ghrelin levels go wild, driving your hunger up and sending you into snacking overdrive. Next thing you know, your fitness goal is going backward.
By staying on track with your sleep, you’re setting yourself up to stay on track with your fitness goals.
Let cortisol run wild through your body and you will start to lose muscle, instead of gaining it.
7. Your muscles get a chance to grow
Good sleep is essential to repairing and growing muscles. Bad sleep can undo your hard work. That’s because sleep deprivation increases cortisol production.
As our dietitian Angie explains: “Let cortisol run wild through your body and you will start to lose muscle, instead of gaining it.”
That’s why Luke Zocchi takes rest seriously. “We all get caught up on smashing ourselves in the gym, but muscle growth only happens when we rest and get enough sleep.”
Bask in the impressive biceps of a guy who knows how to sleep.
8. You can prevent chronic illnesses
Experts are increasingly focusing on using sleep to manage and prevent chronic illnesses. For example, optimizing sleep duration and quality may help people with diabetes control blood sugar.
When you consistently don’t get enough sleep, you’re increasing your risk of serious illnesses such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease.
Many of these medical issues are weight and diet-related, so you can see how a lack of sleep piles up.
The serene face of a woman who loves to sleep.
9. Your libido fires up
If you’re not getting busy sleeping, you’re less likely to be getting busy in bed! And it’s not just because you’re probably too tired for sex.
Sleep is essential for regulating the sex hormones which control libido in both men and women. Get a good night’s rest and you’re more likely to be interested in sex the next day.
Less sleep is also associated with smaller testes, fewer sperm and lower-quality sperm. Sleep is essential for men’s health, as this is when most of your testosterone is released. A lack of testosterone can impact everything from your fertility to bone density and muscle mass.
Keep that in mind next time you hear a dude in the office bragging about how he gets by on just 4 hours of sleep.
Disclaimer: This Centr content is adapted with permission from an article written by Lifespan.io. The content herein represents Centr’s interpretation of the original source material.
Centr x Lifespan.io
Centr has partnered with Lifespan.io to bring you the latest in longevity research. Lifespan.io is the leading source of industry news and a nonprofit advocacy foundation whose mission is to accelerate progress toward overcoming age-related diseases. Since 2014, the organization has focused on responsible journalism, high-impact advocacy, and media initiatives that make longevity research and education more accessible to all.
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