Be honest with yourself here…how many of you actually get 7–9 hours of sleep per night? And I am talking about deep, restful sleep…not fading in and out.
Maybe you are thinking that it is ok that you do not get the 7–9 hours each day during the work week because of your hectic schedule. Surely, you make up for this sleep debt on the weekend, so all is well.
Unfortunately, this weekday sleep debt may have adverse consequences for your health.
A 2015 randomized control trial included 522 newly diagnosed Type 2 Diabetics aiming to investigate the impact of sleep debt on metabolic health. Participants were randomized into three groups: 1)usual care, 2) physical activity intervention, or 3) diet and physical activity intervention (1). After randomization, participants calculated their weekly sleep debt based on a 7-day sleep diary. At this point researchers recorded the participant’s height and weight to determine obesity status, measured their waist circumference for central adiposity, and analyzed their fasting blood samples for insulin sensitivity. We will consider these measurements as “baseline.”
At baseline, participants who accrued weekday sleep debt were 72% more likely to be obese than participants with no weekday sleep debt. 6 months later, weekday sleep debt was significantly associated with obesity and insulin resistance. If we fast forward to 12 months after the study started, researchers found that for every 30 minutes of weekday sleep debt at baseline, the risk of obesity and insulin resistance was significantly increased by 17% and 39%, respectively.
Can you believe that? Just 30 minutes of weekday sleep debt can have a significant impact on your metabolic health.
There is a lot we still do not know about sleep…it is kind of the white whale of the scientific community. We are still searching for its purpose. If the study I outlined above did not quite do it for you, why don’t we look at some other theories as to why we sleep:
- Energy conservation. By going into restful, deep sleep, we reduce our caloric needs and ramp down our metabolism a bit. 8 hours of sleep each night can produce “energy savings” of 35% over complete wakefulness without reducing our metabolic rate(2). Thus, we can think of our daily energy as a battery. Each day, based on our activity level we drain our battery by “X” amount, and therefore, sleep allows us to “recharge” to attack the next day.
- Restorative Theory. When we sleep, we are not ingesting any nutrients, therefore our bodies do not expend energy to digest, absorb, and utilize these nutrients, but can instead allocate resources/energy to aid repair and growth. This may impact muscle repair, protein synthesis, tissue repair, and hormone release to name a few.
- Brain plasticity theory. Sleep allows our neurons (nerve cells)to reorganize. Also, sleep allows our brain’s waste clearance system (glymphatic system) to remove toxic byproducts from the central nervous system. In addition, sleep helps our brain convert short-term memories into long-term, while removing unneeded information which crowds crucial storage space (3).
- Emotions. When we sleep, our key emotional centers such as the amygdala, striatum, hippocampus, insula, and medial prefrontal cortex all ramp up their activity. Allowing these key emotional landmarks to be more adaptive in our wakeful state. We also know that sleep and mental health are not mutually exclusive. Sleep disruption may lead to progression of mental illness, and mental illness may lead to continual sleep disturbances (4).
- Hunger hormones. During sleep, ghrelin (hunger hormone) decreases because we need less energy at this time point. Lack of sleep leads to increases in ghrelin and decreases in leptin (satiating hormone; 5).
- Immune Function. It is well-known that during sleep, our body produces immune cells and cytokines (think of cytokines as Arnold Schwarzenegger and invading pathogens as Sarah Connor in Terminator). Sleep deprivation has been linked to an inhibited immune response, making the body far more vulnerable to germs (6).
There are many other key benefits to getting deep, restful sleep on a daily basis. As I like to say, “If sleep could be bottled up and sold, it would be the most illegal performance enhancing drug ever…and it wouldn't even be close.”
That is why each day you should set an exact time at which you will be in bed. If you know you want to get up at 6 am the next day, tell yourself that you will be in bed ready to sleep by no later than 11 pm (for 7 hours, but hopefully you can make this 10pm or even 9 pm!)
And I know what you are thinking: “But Adam, it is so hard to wind down after a super busy and stressful day.” And I completely understand that, I sometimes run into that problem as well. Fortunately for us, Pinnacle Supplementation has us covered with their new Sleep and Relaxation Powder. This is the most legit product on the market. Everything is at the proper clinical dosage to knock you out for a deep sleep. And trust me this stuff works. The CEO of Pinnacle, Wylie Allen, and his brother, Casey Allen, took this product for a test drive a while back, and it put them to sleep in the matter of minutes…and these are two of the highest energy guys I know.
Bottom-line: Set a schedule and stick to it. Do not get into the habit of making up for lost sleep on the weekend…there is far too much at stake here. Wind down, limit food, water, and electronics before bed. Make your room chilly, and down a scoop of Pinnacle’s Sleep and Relaxation Powder…and voilà you will find yourself on CLOUD 9.
- Endocrine Society. “Losing 30 minutes of sleep per day may promote weight gain and adversely affect blood sugar control.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 March 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150306082541.htm>.