Why do we, as people, take sleep for granted? Whether it’s the actual amount we get, or the quality, we can all admit that at times we don’t give our body the time it so desperately needs, and we suffer for it. Cognitive functioning, recovery times, memory, stress levels, weight, energy, and the ability to fight illness are tremendously affected when we don’t rest. Not to mention our mood, and focus going into the next day. With the advent of always-connected-devices, this becomes even easier. Sleep quality diminishes when we are exposed to the bright backlights of our cellular devices (especially before bed), leading to diminished recovery, despite the length we stay in bed.
As you might imagine, our physical fitness and performance can also be greatly affected by sleep (or lack there-of). Sleep is the time for our body to repair itself, to rebuild the muscles, tendons, and bones we have affected when we exercise. So, if you don’t take the opportunity to properly heal, your body doesn’t. It’s that simple. Starting with our N3 stage of sleep, and continuing into Rapid Eye Movement (REM), our muscles relax and their blood supply increases. This leads to tissue growth and repair. This is also when ~70% of our human growth hormone is secreted in our day, which is essential for growth and development. (Sleepfoundation.org)
I encourage every one of your reading this article to take your rest times seriously. There are innumerable health benefits that come with sleep, both physical and mental. Our bodies functioning in peak condition during exercise is important, it reduces our risk of injury and maximizes the amount of results we see from our time spent in the gym. Whether that’s in the physical domain, where our muscles are adequately restored from our last session, or the mental domain, where our brain is rested, protecting us from doing something dangerous or losing focus during an exercise.
In conclusion, one of the best self-care things a person may do for themselves is rest. Put down the device, and give your body what it’s been calling for.