The basics of sleep, how it is regulated and what disorders an inadequate sleep can create are clear to us by now. Ahead of these;
➢ It is interesting to know that when we are fast asleep our mind and body isn’t. All our systems function in order to rejuvenate a tired body, perform essential cellular and tissue repairs and restore us completely for the upcoming day.
➢ It is even more interesting to know how lack of sleep / poor sleeping pattern can affect body, hamper the health and prolong / delay our fitness goals. The repercussions of a poor and untimed sleep is a must know for fitness enthusiasts!
Repercussions of an Inadequate and Untimed Sleep:
With lack of sleep, our systems fail to perform as effectively as they should. Hence sleeping less than 6 – 8 hours per night on a regular basis can cause adverse health outcomes in adults:
- Endocrine System:
> Higher evening cortisol levels (Stress hormone).
> Reduced leptin levels (a hormone that regulates satiety, decreases appetite basically).
> Increased ghrelin levels (a hormone that regulates hunger, increases appetite basically).
- Nervous System: Alterations (Basically increased sympathetic nervous system activity which is majorly responsible for involuntary actions and fight-or-flight response.
- Weight gain / obesity: Nightmare of every individual eating quantified towards a fat loss goal! An un-regulated control of appetite due to reduced Leptin level and increased ghrelin leads to impaired signalling for caloric need of individual causing obesity. Sleep deprivation also causes a reduced NEAT, less physical activity and energy expenditure due to built-in fatigue and hence fat accumulation.
Diabetes & Hypertension: While poor sleep results in obesity which itself is a reason for Type 2 Diabetes; fluctuations in HGH, Leptin, Gh, Cortisol etc. cause increased insulin resistance and reduced glucose tolerance resulting in accumulation in the form of fat over the time.
- Poor Cardiovascular health: Poor glucose intolerance, nutrient absorption and obesity can in turn lead to poor cardiovascular health. Choking of arteries because of fat accumulation might result in feeling of breathlessness and lack of stamina and endurance of an individual. Most of us know that extreme of choking arteries is a heart stroke!
- Poor nutrition absorption: Is it not scary to even think of this? Nutrients not reaching the cells responsible for giving you energy will eventually make them starve and die! Who will be responsible for vital functions then!
- Metabolic slow down: Metabolic damage for any of us; one wanting to loose fat or other wanting to build muscle is a total No-No! A system not given its due rest period will over the time perform poor (Think of your car not being serviced in its due time – How will the engine and mileage be?).
- An Impaired Immune System: Lack of sleep causes poor recovery and repair of our cells on a day to day basis. Over the time this causes poor immunity and decreased fighting ability of body towards infections.
- Depression and anxiety: Don’t give me food but let me sleep – most of us demand this. Quite obvious why!
So Let us go back to basics and revise the measures to ensure an adequate sleep:
- The more stable and consistent our circadian rhythm is, the better our sleep is. Hence sticking to a fixed routine helps getting quality sleep.
- Block your Clock: Sticking to a fixed sleep and wakeup time helps. With exception to occasions and contingencies, setting the clock for going to bed helps.
- Avoiding Caffeine, Alcohol and Nicotine, Smoke towards sleeping hours is highly recommended. (A) Caffeine can stay in system for hours affecting next day performance. It is easier to tame mind and go off to sleep after having a cup of coffee; however it is not possible to stop the systems churning once caffeine enters the system and generates stimulus. (B) Alcohol might generate a sedative effect initially; however it metabolises during those sleeping hours thereby affecting the quality of sleep.
- Eat right: Every individual is aware of his system and how it responds. For e.g. If eating high protein or fat diet towards night causes reflux then it is wise to time the meals according to what best suits to the body.
- Free your mind: Psychological stressors and troubles should be side-lined while going to sleep. The switch to thinking cap and stress about next day has to be turned off.
- Meditation: A short meditation before going to sleep cools down the mind and brings positivity. This improves sleep quality.