As wonderful and restorative sleep is, a lot of us take it for granted, thinking that hitting the snooze button three times more is going to have repercussions at work and your schedule. You might be right, but not getting quality sleep will take its toll on you in the long run.
Living in a culture where “productivity” is highly valued, we have to rethink what rings as productive to us. We’ve been conditioned to think that the only productive activities are the ones that bring in an apparent outcome, and with time being a limited resource, we’re driven to make the most of it.
Work, for instance, is productive because it brings food to the table; exercise, to maintain our physique and health; socializing, because it establishes connections and promotes companionship— but what people are missing is the fact that sleep and recuperating are just as productive and a good use of your time.
In this article, we’ll take you to some of the reasons why sleep is such an integral part of human life, and why you have to listen to your body when it’s needing another 10 minutes worth of snoozing.
Sleep Takes Out The Trash
Remember when your parents forced you to sleep early as a child? Unbeknownst to them, there’s more to proper sleep than just the myth of it helping us grow taller. Studies reveal that during sleep, the brain gets rid of harmful toxins.
These toxins in the brain are responsible for Alzheimer’s Disease and other neurological disorders. The glymphatic system creates a pathway through the central nervous system, which consists of our brain and the spinal cord, to clear out the toxins.
Sleep Helps With Information Retention
Rushing to memorize a few pages' worth of information might just work… but only in certain conditions. You can’t pull an all-nighter and expect to retain everything for a test an hour after studying— you need sleep.
Sleep is one of the biggest mysteries out there. Memory and learning are just as mysterious. However, studies show that the quantity and quality of sleep makes a difference in learning and memory. A sleep-deprived person can’t focus well due to exhaustion.
To retain information, we go through a mechanism described in three functions: Acquisition, Consolidation, and Recall.
Acquisition is when new information is introduced into the brain, which happens during waking hours. Consolidation is the process where our brain holds on to the information as it turns into a stable memory, and is something we undergo during sleep. Recall is the ability to access the information once it’s been stored. Among all functions, consolidation is the most critical and happens during sleep, as we are least reactive to stimuli while taking that shut-eye.
Sleep Helps Build And Recover Muscles
If you’re the type to hustle hard and kill it at the gym but get little to no sleep, STOP. A healthy diet paired with intense exercises can only do so much for weight loss and muscle gain.
Research has shown that sleep is crucial for recovery and helps with muscle repair after a strenuous workout. Not having enough sleep actually disrupts the body’s ability to recover and build muscle strength.
The body produces its own muscle-building hormones while you sleep, including the Human Growth Hormone (HGH). This hormone is also produced in quick bursts of intense workouts.
Blood flow to the muscles also increases, which enables tissue growth and muscle repair during sleep. Many restorative and healing functions that are critical to our body happen during sleep. Deep relaxation and chronic pain reduction are just bonuses to what sleep can offer to your body.
A Final Word
When people say “sleep is for the weak,” just let them. It may be apt in a sense, but the truth remains that sleep strengthens and restores us. You may be weak before bed, after juggling tasks, nailing it at work and still have time for your friends and yourself, but let them watch you conquer the world after a night of sound sleep. You’re reborn.