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  • Writer's pictureAbbey Booher

The Importance of Sleep

Sleep is one of the most underutilized recovery and “bio-hack” tools that we have, but American culture has long slept on (pun intended) sleep. In this blog we will discuss why sleep is important, how much sleep you need, and ways to improve your sleep hygiene. 


It’s Just Sleep, What’s the Big Deal?


The hours that we sleep is our body’s time to repair, recover, and rest. During sleep, important hormones are released that get to work for repairing tissue. One in particular is Human Growth Hormone (HGH), which not only repairs but also helps other important hormones like Insulin-Like Growth Factor (IGF-1).


Research is surfacing more evidence that sleep deprivation significantly affects human function, both cognitive and physiological. Six or less hours of sleep a night has shown to: 

  • Decrease appetite regulation (lower leptin and higher ghrelin) 

  • Increase cortisol (stress hormone) production

  • Decrease insulin sensitivity (hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar)

  • Decrease immune system function 

  • Decrease cognitive function and mood

  • Decrease exercise performance and recovery 


In addition, chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to hypertension, high cholesterol, type II diabetes, and increased risk of heart attack. Going 24 hours or longer without sleep is similar to having a blood alcohol level of 0.10% as far as cognitive function and decision making goes, which is over the legal limit of intoxication. 


So How Much Sleep Do I Actually Need?


For this question, you want to focus on both quantity and quality. For quantity, currently anywhere between 7-9 hours per night is the recommended amount. Once you have your sleep duration within that range, then the next thing you want to tackle is the quality of the sleep, which we will refer to henceforth as your “sleep hygiene.”


How to Improve Sleep Hygiene 


Keep a consistent waking and bedtime routine 

Our body loves routine, so try to stay on a similar waking and bedtime schedule!


Turn down the lights 

Humans have a built in circadian rhythm that is light sensitive. When dusk hits, turn off overhead lights and opt for dimmer options like lamps. When sleeping, keep the room as dark as possible. 


Reduce or eliminate noise

Any noise can be disruptive to sleep, but if you feel like you need some noise to sleep then opt for a white noise machine or something like a fan. 


Implement a relaxation or mindfulness routine 

Remove external stimulants that can be stress inducing, like work emails, social media, and television. Instead, opt for a more relaxing routine like taking a bath, meditation, or reading (not from a screen). 


Turn down the thermostat 

Optimal sleep happens in a cooler environment (anywhere between 66-72 degrees Fahrenheit.)


Reduce or eliminate stimulants 

We are a coffee loving culture, but the caffeine in coffee significantly disrupts sleep, especially when ingested around bedtime. Try to eliminate or cut off caffeine ingestion approximately 6 hours before your planned bedtime! 


Get your workout in 

Exercise has been shown to help improve sleep. So, personal training, group class, or semi-private - don’t skip your movement hour! 


Monitor fullness at dinner

Eating past hunger to fullness can disrupt your sleep, not to mention it’s uncomfortable. Try to eat slowly and without distraction so that you don’t accidentally over-do it!


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