The Importance of Sleep for a Healthy Body
Sleep is just as vital as nutrition and fitness when it comes to overall health.
While it’s often the most overlooked aspect of health, getting enough sleep can mean the difference between obesity and having a healthy functional body. It also contributes greatly to our performance at work. Today, we’ll look at why you should prioritise sleep in order to have a healthy body, and explore how it prevents illness and how some athletes have perfected their sleep pattern to ensure peak performance.
Sleeping for less than eight hours a day is associated with high blood pressure and cholesterol.
In the long run, these are the factors that contribute to heart disease and strokes. More than that, not getting enough sleep makes us more likely to reach for a snack to keep our energy levels up. Dr Donn Brennan notes that since the appetite and digestive hormones aren’t given enough time to switch off through sleep, people who suffer from sleep deprivation are always hungry. This can lead to higher levels of obesity, which is ultimately a gateway to other chronic diseases.
Further research has also indicated that those who work late night shifts have a higher risk of developing breast and colon cancer. Very Well Health state that melatonin is a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycles and is also known to suppress the growth of tumours. However, constant exposure to artificial light before bedtime reduces melatonin levels. Thus, those who are burning the midnight oil working on their laptops until the early hours of the morning lessen the production of the vital hormone needed to protect against cancer.
Individuals who are physically active rely on sleep even more.
Sleep is an important part of the recovery process for athletes, who typically experience chronic inflammation due to their training. Roger Federer, one of the most successful tennis players in the world, is known for keeping some interesting sleeping habits. The tennis star sleeps for 12 hours a day, 10 at night and two during the day. Keeping this routine helps him reduce inflammation brought about by training. His attitude towards sleep has been vital to his accomplishments, and Federer’s success has made him the top earner in the tennis world. A big part of this success is that he has been able to continue playing at the highest level into his late 30s. Without using sleep to properly recover, his career may have been much shorter.
However, even regular people can learn from professional athletes’ sleeping habits. Our stress hormones increase when we don’t get enough sleep, which in turn raises the levels of inflammation in the body. This can lead to heart-related conditions and diabetes and can cause our body to deteriorate as we age. Getting enough every night helps us counter inflammation and allows our body to continue functioning normally.
Recovery and repair
While sleep is our time to relax, it’s also our body’s opportunity to repair damage caused by stress and other forms of exposure.
When we sleep, our cells produce more protein. These molecules are used to replenish the building blocks in our cells, allowing for our body’s recovery and repair. Sleep is so important to the body’s recovery that sports teams have started to incorporate it into their training regimes. British track cyclists Victoria Pendleton and Chris Hoy famously carried a sleep kit around with them during the 2012 Olympics on the advice of sleep coach Nick Littlehales. He even provided the athletes with a personalised mattress to ensure that they were getting the most out of their sleep. This helped their bodies produce the cells needed to repair and strengthen their muscles. Clearly it worked as they both won gold medals. Individuals need to realise the competitive advantage of sleep in restoring the body to perform better.
As the above points show, it doesn’t matter if you are an elite athlete or someone who works in an office; sleep is a vital part of having a healthy body. If you need some more tips on how to improve your sleep cycle, take a look at the steps Kate took to wake up feeling refreshed and healthy every day.
Content intended only for the use of maharishi.co.uk By Berline Jaux
DISCLAIMER: The information in this document is presented for the sole purpose of imparting education on Maharishi AyurVeda and neither the information nor the products are intended to diagnose, treat, mitigate, cure or prevent any disease. If you have a medical condition or are pregnant or lactating, please consult a health professional and it is recommended that you speak with your physician before making significant changes to your diet or routine.