Are you getting enough SLEEP!

April 13, 2018

Enough good quality sleep is vital for us to perform at our best, promote good health and wellbeing, and help to manage pain. Conversely, sleep deprivation increases your risk of injury and illness. Sleep increases mood and improves your ability to regulate anger.

Sleep also effects body composition. Sleep deprivation inhibits anabolic hormones and protein synthesis; promotes catabolic hormones and increases protein degradation – leading to muscle atrophy (see here). If you are looking to build muscle and get stronger, you need to prioritise sleep. People who sleep fewer than 6 hours per night gain almost twice as much fat mass over a 6-year period as people who sleep 7 to 8 hours per night (see here and here).  Excessive sleep isn’t necessarily better. Those who sleep more than 9 hours per night have similar body composition outcomes as those who sleep less than 6 hours.

Long term sleep deprivation also leads to a greater risk of heart attack, stroke, and sudden cardiac death (see here). In addition, sleep deprivation is linked to insulin resistance, glucose intolerance and type 2 diabetes (see here).

To reduce the negative impacts of sleep deprivation, it is important to understand what good quality sleep is, how much sleep is necessary and how we can improve our sleep.

Adults should be aiming for 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Good sleep is characterised by falling asleep within 30 minutes, only waking once (briefly) though the night and feeling refreshed within an hour of awakening. If you fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow, it indicates that you are already sleep deprived.

Recommendations for sleep:

  • Maintain a regular sleep-wake cycle – even on the weekend.
  • Use napping appropriately (naps should not interfere with night time sleep).
  • Ensure that you aren’t waking to go to the toilet by consuming your last drink for the evening with your meal.
  • Eat enough to stop you feeling hungry but avoid over eating.
  • Ensure bed is comfortable and the room temperature is 19-21°
  • Remove TV, computer, internet from bedroom to reduce blue light and interruptions.
  • Avoid thinking, planning or other mental activities while in bed – have a ‘to-do list’ that you can put down things to sort out the next day rather than thinking about them as you try to go to sleep.
  • Use an eye mask – darkness tells your body to release sleep hormones.
  • Keep the room quiet or use ear plugs or white noise (e.g. fan).
  • To enhance relaxation, try deep breathing or reading a book but avoid screens.
  • Eliminate stimulants like caffeine/nicotine, especially after 12pm.
  • Ensure you exercise regularly but not too late in the day and particularly not immediately before bedtime.