What is Sleep

What is Sleep

I'm sure everyone knows what it means to sleep but it may surprise you how complex it is.
There are 5 main stages of sleep and they all do different things

1. Stage 1 sleep
a. This stage is considered light sleep or the beginning of falling into the later stages.
Muscles start to relax, and the eyes move very slowly. People can be easily awoken from this stage.

2. Stage 2 sleep
a. The eyes stop movement and brain waves become slower, with the occasional rapid wave.

3. Stage 3 and 4 sleep
a. Extremely slow brain waves start and are intercepted by smaller, faster brain waves occur in wave 3. By stage 4, almost all brain waves become the smaller, faster ones which are called delta waves. There is no eye movement or muscle activity in this stage. This is considered a deep sleep and difficult to wake someone from.

4. REM Sleep
a. This is the stage your eyes start rapidly moving, otherwise known as REM. Many functions change at this stage, such as faster heart rate, irregular breathing, blood pressure rises, muscles become paralyzed, and this stage is the reason for dreams.
Throughout the night, our bodies will go through multiple of these cycles, with the first taking about 90 to 110 minutes to complete. Although, as the night progresses, the periods of REM sleep become longer and periods of phase 3 and 4 (deep sleep) become shorter. Most nights, you will spend most of your time in phases 1,2, and REM.

What does sleep do for the body?

1. More sleep = more weight loss

It sounds weird but it is true. Studies have shown that getting less sleep is linked to gaining more weight. Why is that? One of the simplest to understand is that of availability to eat. The more you are awake, the more time you must eat and the more you are likely to eat. This leads to overeating and weight gain. Not only that, but your body naturally will want to eat more the less sleep you get. Sleep deprivation produces higher amounts of Ghrelin (The hormone responsible for appetite) and produces lower amounts of Leptin (The hormone responsible for appetite suppression). In short, if you are looking to get less calories in your diet, get a good night's sleep!

2. More Motivation

In the field of health and fitness, motivation is one of the most important things a person needs to have. You must want it yourself, no one else can do that for you. Motivation may take a hit when you are tired because it is harder to concentrate or be productive when tired. You and your body do not want to go on a 3-mile run in the morning if you are tired, so you will not. Even if you do still get your workout in, it may come at a cost. Lack of focus, especially in weightlifting, causes form to slip and makes everything you do more dangerous or not as effective. This makes sleep crucial for people on a workout program or routine.

3. Immunity Boost

There are a multitude of diseases that you can lower your risk for by getting a good night's sleep. These include:

  • Lesser chance of developing type 2 diabetes
  • Lesser chance of heart disease and stroke
  • Lesser chance of inflammation in the digestive tract
  • Lesser chance of getting sick from things such as the common cold

All of these happen when you get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep, but we would suggest you shoot for 8. Better safe than sorry!

4. Mental Boost

As said in number 2, bad sleep can cause motivation slips but it can be more detrimental to your mental health than just that. Depression is heavily linked to people who get bad sleep. 90% of people with depression have sleep problems or a sleeping disorder. While it could be argued that the depression causes sleeping problems, the opposite could also be true. Either way, getting a good night's sleep is a good way to keep mood and spirit up.

Sources

https://www.healthline.com/health/why-do-we-sleep#insulin-function
https://breakingmuscle.com/fitness/the-importance-of-sleep-for-weightlifters-and-other-athletes
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/sleep-and-weight-loss#section2