I have had conversation after conversation with people talking about sleep. People tell me all the time “I’m cool as long as I get 3-4 hours of sleep.” This BLOWS my mind because I know that if I came off 3-4 hours of sleep I would be crushing pizzas, not working out, not studying, not talking to anybody, and watching movies all day. So I did some research, and talked to some sleep experts to see how important sleep actually is to our health, and how to increase the quality of sleep when we do actually get to bed.
In college, I understand it is tough to get the optimal 7-9 hours of sleep recommended by health professionals. Most of us are chronic procrastinators which causes us to pull all-nighters every once in awhile. Personally, I am not a huge pull-an-all-nighter person. I figure I’ll probably do better on the test is I can keep my eyes open rather than stuff more info into my brain late at night. My lack of sleep comes on Friday and Saturday (and maybe an occasional Thursday) when the bars and clubs are live. Some of you can relate I am sure..
Importance of Sleep
Think of your body and mind as a battery. You need to recharge that shit! Sleep is a hormonal reset button (or your charger). When you “recharge” your mind and body with good, quality sleep you reduce the stress hormone cortisol which leads to less hunger, less cravings, and more energy throughout the day.
A study published online at the Public Library of science shows the correlation between sleep and hormones that control appetite. This was a study of 1,024 people, and their sleep and eating habits. People who slept less than 7-8 hours throughout the night showed a significant increase in appetite. These same people who slept less tended to weight more than the individuals that got more sleep.
Positives of Sleep:
- Increased energy and motivation
- Decreased hunger and cravings
- You’re definitely better looking (you know how when you come off a rough night of sleep people let you know that you look like you you had a rough night of sleep? Then you think “Yeah, I know, I was there asshole”)
- Increased mood
- Increased Productivity
- Increased Sex drive (#nice)
- You get fat
- You look rough.. No offense..
- You have an increased appetite
- You don’t want to do anything
- If somebody speaks to you want to deck them in the face for no reason
Why You Can’t Sleep
Some of you may get angry and say “Look bro, I want to sleep. I just CAN”T!!” That is understandable. There is nothing worse than rolling around in bed for hours, or waking up at 4:00am and not being able to fall asleep.
Let me try to help you understand why. Usually an inability to sleep has to do with an imbalance in blood sugar. For example, let’s say you eat dinner at 7pm, and you plan on going to bed early because you feel exhausted from a long day. However, come 10:00, 11:00, & 12:00 o’clock you feel wide awake! Why? When you go for that extended period of time without eating your blood sugar levels drop. To combat this, your body releases stress hormones (adrenalin, noradrenaline, and cortisol) to raise your blood sugar back up. This causes your mind to feel alert and wide awake.
Something else that stimulates this response of your stress hormones is light. Yeah dude, light. So when you are zoning out at night by watching TV or surfing the web you are steadily increasing those same stress hormones to keep your brain alert and awake.
“Sooo How Do I Sleep Better?”
Remember, we are all different, so you may have to do a little experimentation to figure out what works best for you.
- IF you are the type that stays up at night here is what you do; Eat a little bit of carbohydrate before bed. This should spike your blood sugar to help you fall asleep.
- IF you are the type who wakes up frequently or wakes up at 4am here is what you should do; Eat a little protein & fiber before bed. Protein stabilizes blood sugar for a longer period of time helping you stay asleep at night
- Keep the lights low: I know it’s tempting to watch TV or surf the web to “calm down” before bed, but here is what you should do instead.
- Dim the lights, or light candles
- Read a book
- Have sex (the candles set the mood and everything)
- Do some visualization exercises: Many successful people (Muhammad Ali, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, MLK, Michael Jordan) all say that they saw their success in great detail before it ever happened. Take time to close your eyes and picture vividly the success of your future.
- Dim the lights on your computer if you must be on Facebook
- Take a hot shower
- Yogi Bedtime Tea: This is a favorite of mine. If you put 4-5 bags in 8 oz of water it is similar to taking a small dose of Xanax. Good for relaxing before bed. You can get this at the grocery store.
- Magnesium (Glycinate)- This can be found at GNC or Vitamin Shoppe or even Walmart. Taking Magnesium before be is a great natural way to relax your muscles & calm the nervous system.