If I tell you that a drug has been discovered that ...
… Is available to everyone
… Does not pose any health risks
… Is very muscle building
… Makes you feel MUCH better about yourself
… Hunger suppressed better than fat burners
… Reduces injuries and improves recovery
… Makes you mentally sharper, more than a good number of cups of coffee
... also protects against various types of cancer, diabetes and obesity in the long term and can drastically reduce your risk of Alzheimer's
Would you use it then? Most people will probably say 'yes' because that sounds very interesting right?
You are probably very disappointed when you find out that this article is about sleep deprivation. Still, I want you to read this (long, I know) article carefully. It could save your life. Literally.
If we look at sleep from a survival point of view, it is actually very illogical; during sleep you are defenseless against attacks, you cannot search for food or a partner to pass on your DNA, you cannot take care of children, etc.
If sleep did not have a very vital function, sleep was a huge mistake from nature and it might have been filtered away by selection. But that didn't happen. As described in the previous article about sleep there are several phases and we find out more and more that each sleeping phase has a unique and separate function.
Sleep deprivation and health
In this article I mainly want to delve into the physical benefits of sleep and the properties that show immediate benefit for (strength) training. Apart from the benefits I mention here, sleep definitely has benefits for your mental capacity, stress resistance (which can indirectly lead to more results like you in the previous articles about stress could have read). The expression 'sleeping on it overnight' does not fall from the sky and is known in many different cultures and languages. With a reason. Have you ever been unable to get out of a maths sum or did it not continue to write a paper or your thesis, went to bed and suddenly had an inspiration the next morning? In addition, I will drop a large number of random facts to emphasize the importance of a good night's sleep. Like these:
Waking up 20 for hours has just as bad consequences for cognition as being drunk (according to the law). Driving with lack of sleep in traffic costs more human lives than alcohol and drugs in traffic.
Epidemiological studies show that little sleep shortens your life. You can read how this is done below, but be aware that it is not about months, but literally years.
The advice '' can sleep when you're dead '' is therefore completely unjustified and the opposite of what would be good advice. People who sleep (too) little live shorter and the quality of that shorter life is less. Just like the fact that breathing itself ultimately leads to damage to cells, proteins, etc (free radicals created by oxygen), waking up causes low grade brain damage. Sleep repairs this damage.
Sleep deprivation during your life seems to be one of the factors that determine whether you develop Alzheimer's disease later in life.
The processing of waste
During deep sleep the glyphphatic system unfolds, with which your body drains the waste that has been built up during the day into your brain / nerves. One of these wastes is Beta-amaloid, one of the biggest underlying causes of Alzheimer's development. The less sleep you have during your life, the more Beta-amaloid accumulates. People who have a grandfather or grandmother in their family with Alzheimer's (I speak from experience) know what an incredible pussy disease this is. Sufficient (deep) sleep is of vital importance.
Research has shown that people who work in shifts (night shifts) have a greater chance of developing diabetes and cancer, among other things. The WHO has classified working in night shifts as a possible cause of development into certain forms of cancer.
Sleep deprivation has a major impact on the immune system; Even 1 night 4 hours of sleep in a week of adequate sleep shows a significant decrease in the capacity to clean up damaged cells that could potentially lead to cancer in the long term.
Of course I do not want to say that everyone who works in shifts kills their own health, but when you work shifts it is absolutely essential that you ensure adequate sleep; both for your health and for progression in and outside the gym.
Not convinced yet? Every year an experiment is done among many many millions of people, namely setting the clock ahead. Every spring a significant increase in heart attacks is seen around this time, more than 20%; we are only talking about 1 hours here. In the fall, when the clock goes back an hour, we see a decrease of approximately 20%. 1 hours.
Sleep and (strength) training
Sleep seems to be enormously important in learning motor skills and developing memories and memory. Studies in which rats (with electrodes placed in the brain) have to walk through a maze to find food show that certain neurons fire in certain sequences during this 'learning'. Then, during the sleep of these rats, the same neurons were fired in the same order, but then a factor of 20 as fast; sleep is extremely important in learning. Not only learning from a book, but also for skills and exercise patterns as mentioned. So it is not the case that you press 'save' after a training session and the next training session continues where you left off, but you continue to learn while you sleep.
Studies show that a good night's sleep can make your 20 a 30% better at the skill you are learning than at the end of the previous training session. We are not rats now, but these effects apply just as well to performing exercises. This means that sleep ensures that your nerves learn to steer and coordinate your muscles better and better, so that you will perform exercises more efficiently, which in turn will lead to more muscle growth.
With a sleep deprivation of 6 hours of sleep or less, studies show accelerated physical exhaustion; lactic acid builds up faster, the capacity of the lungs to expel carbon dioxide and to absorb oxygen is reduced. Studies have shown a correlation between less sleep and a reduced peak muscle strength, reduced jumping power and reduced sprint speed. Output is therefore lower due to lack of sleep; we have seen in previous articles of mine how important sufficient output is and that it is important that the volume that we turn a significant incentive causes.
Your injury risk also increases ...
In addition, research has shown that the fewer athletes sleep, the greater the risk of injury. Athletes with 5 hours of sleep per day versus athletes with 9 hours of sleep per day are almost 60% more likely to have an injury during a season. And we all know: an injury means downtime and therefore no progression.
This means that you could train perfectly for a whole period and take all possible progression into account, but if you have a day in which you have a condition-related competition that sleeps less than 6 hours, you will never be able to go to the maximum. Again, this naturally also applies to strength training; we also see fatigue build up over time with strength training; for that reason, the later sets in your workout become less efficient; muscle control runs less smoothly and fatigue accumulates. More sleep can have very positive effects on this, making your workouts more efficient, which again leads to potentially more progression.
We are constantly developing new training methods, better periodization, better exercises and equipment, new supplements, optimal timing of food, better skates or swimsuits, better football boots, better handles for a cable rack, better lifter shoes, ... some of these effects will hardly be significant in themselves, but those few percent profit can make the difference between you and your competition. One of the best proven legal supplements, creatine, can give an 5 up to 10% boost;
So realize how huge 20 to 30% is ...
Sleep and body composition
In addition, sleep deprivation certainly also has an influence on your body composition. As mentioned in the previous article about sleep, sleep deprivation can lead to less satiety and more hunger. Do you still know Leptin (higher = satiety) and Ghrelin (higher = hunger)?
Research in which healthy people were put on 4 to 5 hours of sleep per night for 1 week showed that Leptin levels went down, while Ghrelin levels rose; the consequences of this you can guess for yourself. People who sleep only 5 to 6 hours a night seem to eat 200 to 300 kcal more per day than people with enough sleep; This does not seem particularly significant, but if your sleep rhythm is 5 to 6 hours a night all year round (I am guilty of this myself, time to do something about this!) It means that with enough sleep you may be unconscious. 73.000 to 110.000 had eaten less calories. Converted about 10 kilos of fat per year ...
In addition, you not only eat more when you have a sleep deficiency, the food choice is also worse for people with a sleep deprivation. Research in which the subjects were given a free choice of eating whatever they wanted after a night of complete sleep abstinence, resulted in these people eating ~ 450 kcal more than the control group, but also opting for more carbohydrates and processed food. Something that makes over-eating easier.
Sleep deprivation and losing weight do NOT go together!
During the weight loss period, sleep deprivation is therefore the last thing you want, since you make losing weight even more difficult than it already is and also making it harder than necessary.
In addition, with a lack of sleep during a diet, a larger proportion of lean body mass will disappear than in people who sleep enough.
In the last decades we have seen an enormous increase in overweight and obesity, while the amount of sleep that people get every day is getting less and less; it is far too short to say that the obesity epidemic is caused by the reduced amount of sleep we have, but there is definitely a connection. Something to think about.
Another condition that appears to be increasingly common is ADHD, especially among children. However, studies hint at perhaps a completely different cause; sleep deprivation, as we now know, also leads to difficulty with prolonged concentration, impulsive behavior by suppression of the prefrontal cortex, being chaotic in behavior and thoughts, being forgetful, mood swings, etc. Characteristics that in some cases may be mistaken as ADHD (and treated with medication) while solving sleep deprivation, at least in some cases, might improve. Of course we have to be very careful with such conclusions, but the medication for ADHD is a stimulant. Another thing to think about.
Power naps can have a positive effect on your mental well-being and mental resilience, but naps cannot be used indefinitely to keep up with broken nights. Sleep debt is not efficiently overtaken by the body and for every hour of sleep debt you have to sleep more than enough for a few days. It is not clear from research whether all sleep debt must be made up, or whether part of this debt is canceled, but sleeping in 1 at night will not be enough to make up for sleep deprivation during the week. 'Persevering' during the week does not mean that you have had enough sleep. Sleep is not like energy, which we can store in advance (in the form of fat) for when times of hunger are coming.
The problem with sleep deprivation is that you do not realize it so much when you have it in mild form; there are plenty of people who claim to have enough 6 hours of sleep per night (again, I am guilty of this too) but research shows that this is not the case. To return to the comparison between lack of sleep and alcohol; many people think that they are still sharp after a few drinks of alcohol and that it has no influence on their reaction time; nevertheless, research shows that alcohol, even at low doses, has an absolute effect on reaction time, long before the person concerned realizes this. Similarly with sleep deprivation.
People are the only beings who consciously refrain from sleep. Only with extreme hunger do we see in animal studies that they build up sleep debt to have sufficient time to look for food in a larger area. Someone who has ever worked towards a photo shoot or towards a competition and has fallen to a very low fat percentage knows this. Sleep deteriorates as the fat percentage decreases / when food availability becomes less.
Tips against a sleep deprivation
When you have trouble falling asleep or sleeping through, there are a number of things you can try to improve sleep.
1 - Regularity
This is the most important. Teach yourself a fixed rhythm. Go to bed at the same time, get up at the same time. Also in the weekends.
2 - Consider light
I have also discussed this before, but try not to be busy with screens the last hour before bedtime and also dim the lamps in advance. You probably remember camping when you were in bed a lot earlier on vacation in the mountains and you slept here than in the Netherlands, especially if you didn't sleep in a house but in a tent. Campsites are often a lot less lightened and studies have shown that when subjects are placed in places where there was hardly any light in the evening, they went to bed until 2 hours earlier than at home.
3 - Temperature
Your bedroom should be cool; Slightly cooling the body (and the brain) can greatly help you fall asleep. In a cool bedroom, people generally fall asleep more easily and sleep deeper than in a warm room. A warm bath (or shower) for sleeping can help here; blood flow to your skin will increase and persist for a while even after you get out of the bath; your body can now lose much more heat than normal through your skin. Studies with hunter-gatherer tribes show that they wake up not by sunrise, but about an hour before that time; the rise in temperature is the trigger for this.
4 - Diet
The general advice about food intake around sleep is somewhat vague, but reads as follows: Do not go to bed hungry (the reason we have read a paragraph above), but also not with an overcrowded stomach. Diets high in sugar or carbohydrate, without fiber (ie processed food) seem to negatively influence sleep and lead to less deep sleep.
5 - Medication
We can be very brief about this. Sleeping pills are not a solution for this problem and only camouflage the cause of the sleep deprivation, without offering a solution for underlying causes. Sleep medication may be needed in some cases (hopefully temporarily), but be aware that this is not a solution.
How much sleep and how important is sleep
The minimum amount of sleep that is recommended in everything I have read to write this article is 7 hours. 7 to 9 hours would be optimal, so let's keep it on average 8. I can say with certainty that in the last few months I may have only achieved 1 night. What you do with this information is entirely up to you, but by writing this article I started to think more about how I organize my life and time and how I optimally coach my clients. I was certainly aware of the importance of sleep for progression, but I did not realize that the effects went so far for progression, as well as recovery, as motor skills and certainly also for health.
It is impossible to express in words the importance of sleep. I can go on for many times this way. I studied health sciences myself and sleep was only a very small part of my studies. I know people who study medicine, who only get the subject of sleep for a few hours throughout their studies. Surgeons who have had 6 hours of sleep or less in 24 hours have an 170% greater chance of major errors during surgery, compared to when the same surgeon would have had sufficient sleep. Employees with insufficient sleep are less productive, less creative and have less sense of responsibility. In schools we teach children nothing about the importance of sleep.
Sleep affects everything and everyone
When the neonatology department (the hospital's co-fusion department) takes light into the department, instead of constantly bright 24 / 7 lamps, there is the possibility of using a normal sleep-wake rhythm. Fortunately, more and more attention is being paid to this; children born prematurely in a department where a normal light rhythm is taken into account in this way have an increased saturation of oxygen in the blood, gain weight more quickly and were able to leave 5 weeks earlier in this department on average.
Let me know what you think of this article and share this article. Try to organize your life better, for more gains, a tighter belly and a more charismatic face. But above all this, for your health. We are so much engaged in more sports, healthier eating, supplements that support our health and these are absolutely good developments. But we all forget one huge factor in this whole story, perhaps the greatest one.
Jan Willem van der Klis