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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.

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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.

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    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).

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      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?

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      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

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      Last Updated on March 13, 2019

      How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

      How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

      Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

      You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

      Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

      1. Work on the small tasks.

      When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

      Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

      2. Take a break from your work desk.

      Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

      Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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      3. Upgrade yourself

      Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

      The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

      4. Talk to a friend.

      Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

      Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

      5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

      If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

      Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

      Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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      6. Paint a vision to work towards.

      If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

      Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

      Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

      7. Read a book (or blog).

      The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

      Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

      Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

      8. Have a quick nap.

      If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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      9. Remember why you are doing this.

      Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

      What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

      10. Find some competition.

      Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

      Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

      11. Go exercise.

      Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

      Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

      As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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      Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

      12. Take a good break.

      Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

      Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

      Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

      Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

      More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

      Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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