Advertising
Advertising

5 Reasons Sleep Can Improve Your Lifestyle

5 Reasons Sleep Can Improve Your Lifestyle

Sleep is probably one of the most underrated factors that can be used to improve our health. Despite being extremely important, it rarely gets the attention it deserves.

Just how Leonardo DiCaprio never wins an Oscar.

Not paying attention to your sleep can lead to a reduction in both productivity and health. Paying attention to it is the easiest way to improve your lifestyle.

Here are five reasons sleep can improve your lifestyle:

1. Improved cognitive performance and memory.

Most people burn the midnight oil whenever they are studying for an exam or have to cram a whole lot of information into their brains.

What if I told you that your late night attempt to learn is counterproductive and you are probably better off sleeping? There are a couple ways sleep will enhance your cognitive performance and memory.

Advertising

Ensuring you are well-rested will help keep mental fatigue at bay. How else would you be able to focus and learn what’s important if mental fatigue is causing an inability to focus?

brain
    2. Sleep and skill acquisition.

    The second way is related to how our brain functions. Short term memory is stored in a part of the brain called the neocortex, while long term memory is stored in the hippocampus (Peigneux P. et al 2004).

    During sleep, information from the neocortex gets transferred into the hippocampus, creating a much more permanent storage. Hence, a well-rested brain will ensure proper mental function and an improved memory.

    It’s interesting to note that sleeping well will help us pick up new skills faster. Study subjects that had sleep deprivation had no problem performing and learning simple skills; however, as difficulty increased, the subjects who were sleep-deprived found it tougher to pick up a new skill (Landry S. et al 2014).

    Another study titled “The Relationship between Tennis Skill Acquisitions with Sleep Quality and Quality of Life” was performed on tennis players, showed that players who slept well were faster and more accurate than those who didn’t (Seferogu F. et al 2013).

    The takeaway is that sleep is highly important when it comes to learning something new, especially if what you’re going to learn is not that simple.

    Advertising

    fat guy

      3. Lack of sleep can lead to weight gain.

      Lack of sleep can not only disrupt mental performance but it can also hamper physical performance. Lab studies have shown that an increase in sleep deprivation showed an increased risk of obesity and diabetes (Walsh N. et al 2011).

      A study called “Insufficient sleep undermines dietary efforts to reduce adiposity” demonstrated two groups of subject were put on a weight loss diet, the group which had sleep deprivation lost more weight from muscle instead of fat (Nedeltcheva AV et al 2010).

      The reason behind this could be potentially caused by changes in insulin resistance and glucose regulation. This means our body cannot process sugar as efficiently, which can lead to potential fat gain.

      The longer you’re awake, the higher the chance for you to eat something. And, most of the time, it isn’t going to be something “healthy”.

      4. Lack of sleep can lead to decreased immune function.

      When we sleep, our body produces a hormone called melatonin. This is a vital hormone that helps regulate our immune system. A lack of melatonin can lead to someone falling sick easily due to a weaken immune system. This is probably why you might see people who have not slept for a few nights are also those that are more prone to falling sick as well.

      There are also studies demonstrating that a lack of sleep can also increase the risk of cancer, heart disease and an increase in cholesterol levels (Marshall NS et al 2012).

      Advertising

      So if you want to take care of your health, you better be monitoring your sleep.

      5. Lack of sleep can reduce sex drive

      Our sex drive is regulated by a hormone called testosterone. This applies to both males and females. A reduction of 10-30% of testosterone can be seen in populations that are sleep deprived, not to mention that this reduction can be further magnified if sleep deprivation continues (Leproult R. et al 2011).

      This shows that if you lack sleep, a reduction in testosterone will lead to a reduction of your sex drive.

      So, to be good in bed, you actually need to spend more time in bed—sleeping.

      References:

      1. Peigneux P. et al 2004 Are Spatial Memories Strengthened in the Human Hippocampus during Slow Wave Sleep?

      Advertising

      2. Landry S. et al 2014 The impact of obstructive sleep apnea on motor skill acquisition and consolidation.

      3. Seferogu F. et al 2013 The Relationship between Tennis Skill Acquisitions with Sleep Quality and Quality of Life

      4. Walsh N et al 2011 Position statement. Part one: Immune function and exercise.

      5. Nedeltcheva AV et al 2010 Insufficient sleep undermines dietary efforts to reduce adiposity.

      6.  Marshall NS et al  2012 Sleep Apnea as an Independent Risk Factor for All-Cause Mortality: The Busselton Health Study

      7. Leproult R, Van Cauter E. 2011  Effect of 1 week of sleep restriction on testosterone levels in young healthy men.

      Featured photo credit: Sleeping Man/Rudolf Vlček via flickr.com

      More by this author

      5 Reasons Sleep Can Improve Your Lifestyle 4 Start-Ups You Shouldn’t Try 7 Important Life Lessons from Disney’s “Frozen” 5 Time Management Tips That Will Improve Your Productivity And Your Health

      Trending in Health

      1 12 Causes of Lower Right Back Pain (And How to Relieve It) 2 10 Best Brain Power Supplements That Will Supercharge Your Mind 3 How to Tell Symptoms of Social Anxiety And What to Do About It 4 7 Signs You’re Burnt Out and How to Bounce Back 5 What to Eat When Constipated? 10 Foods to Improve Your Gut Health

      Read Next

      Advertising
      Advertising
      Advertising

      Last Updated on July 23, 2019

      5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

      5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

      In the journey of growth, there are times when we grow and excel. We are endlessly driven and hyped up, motivated to get our goals.

      Then there are times when we stagnate. We feel uninspired and unmotivated. We keep procrastinating on our plans. More often than not, we get out of a rut, only to get back into another one.

      How do you know if you are stagnating? Here are some tell-tale signs:

      Advertising

      • If you have been experiencing chronic procrastination on your goals
      • If you don’t ever feel like doing anything
      • If you keep turning to sleep, eating, games, mindless activities and entertainment for comfort
      • If you know you should be doing something, but yet you keep avoiding it
      • If you have not achieved anything new or significant now relative to 1 month, 2 months or 3 months ago
      • If you have a deep sense of feeling that you are living under your potential

      When we face stagnation in life, it’s a sign of deeper issues. Stagnation, just like procrastination, is a symptom of a problem. It’s easy to beat ourselves over it, but this approach is not going to help. Here, I will share 5 steps to help you move out of this stagnation. They won’t magically transform your life in 1 night (such changes are never permanent because the foundations are not built), but they will help you get the momentum going and help you get back on track.

      1. Realize You’re Not Alone

      Everyone stagnates at some point or another. You are not alone in this and more importantly, it’s normal. In fact, it’s amazing how many of my clients actually face the same predicament, even though all of them come from different walks of life, are of different ages, and have never crossed paths. Realizing you are not alone in this will make it much easier to deal with this period. By trying to “fight it”, you’re only fighting yourself. Accept this situation, acknowledge it, and tell yourself it’s okay. That way, you can then focus on the constructive steps that will really help you.

      2. Find What Inspires You

      Advertising

      Stagnation comes because there isn’t anything that excites you enough to take action. If you don’t have a habit of setting goals, and instead just leave yourself to daily mundanes, it’s not surprising you are experiencing stagnation. What do you want to do if there are no limitations? If you can have whatever you want, what will it be? The answers to these questions will provide the fuel that will drive you forward.

      On the other hand, even if you are an experienced goal setter, there are times when the goals you set in the past lose their appeal now. It’s normal and it happens to me too. Sometimes we lose touch with our goals, since we are in a different emotional state compared to when we first set them. Sometimes our priorities change and we no longer want to work on those goals anymore. However, we don’t consciously realize this, and what happens is we procrastinate on our goals until it compounds into a serious problem. If that’s the case for you, it’s time to relook into your goals. There’s no point in pursuing goals that no longer inspire you. Trash away your old goals (or just put them aside) and ask yourself what you really want now. Then go for them.

      3. Give Yourself a Break

      When’s the last time you took a real break for yourself? 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? Never? Perhaps it’s time to take a time-out. Prolonged working can cause someone to become disillusioned as they lose sight of who they are and what they want.

      Advertising

      Go take some extended leave from work. A few days at bare minimum; a few weeks or months will be great. Some of my ex-colleagues have quit their jobs and took months out to do some self-reflection. Of course, some of us might not have that luxury, so we can stick to a few weeks of leave. Go on a trip elsewhere and get away from your work and your life. Use this chance to get a renewed perspective of life. Think about your life purpose, what you want and what you want to create for your life in the future. These are big questions that require deep thinking over them. It’s not about finding the answers at one go, but about taking the first step to finding the answers.

      4. Shake up Your Routines

      Being in the same environment, doing the same things over and over again and meeting the same people can make us stagnant. This is especially if the people you spend the most time with are stagnant themselves.

      Change things around. Start with simple things, like taking a different route to work and eating something different for breakfast. Have your lunch with different colleagues, colleagues you never talked much with. Work in a different cubicle if your work has free and easy seating. Do something different than your usual for weekday evenings and weekends. Cultivate different habits, like exercising every day, listening to a new series of podcasts every morning to work, reading a book, etc (here’s 6 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick). The different contexts will give you different stimulus, which will trigger off different thoughts and actions in you.

      Advertising

      When I’m in a state of stagnancy, I’ll get a sense of what’s making me stagnate. Sometimes it’s the environment I’m in, sometimes it’s the people I’ve been hanging out with, sometimes it’s my lifestyle. Most of the times it’s a combination of all these. Changing them up helps to stir myself out of the stagnant mode.

      5. Start with a Small Step

      Stagnation also comes from being frozen in fear. Maybe you do want this certain goal, but you aren’t taking action. Are you overwhelmed by the amount of work needed? Are you afraid you will make mistakes? Is the perfectionist in you taking over and paralyzing you?

      Let go of the belief that it has to be perfect. Such a belief is a bane, not a boon. It’s precisely from being open to mistakes and errors that you move forward. Break down what’s before you into very very small steps, then take those small steps, a little step at a time. I had a client who had been stagnating for a long period because he was afraid of failing. He didn’t want to make another move where he would make a mistake. However, not wanting to make a mistake has led him to do absolutely nothing for 2-3 years. On the other hand, by doing just something, you would already be making progress, whether it’s a mistake or not. Even if you make a supposed “mistake”,  you get feedback to do things differently in the next step. That’s something you would never have known if you never made a move.

      More to Help You Stay Motivated

      Here are some resources that will help you break out of your current phase:

      Featured photo credit: Anubhav Saxena via unsplash.com

      Read Next