Our bodies have something called a circadian rhythm. This is a type of internal clock that tells us when it’s morning and time to wake up. It also lets us know when to go to sleep at night. If this circadian rhythm is disrupted, it impacts your ability to get good sleep.
The National Sleep Foundation adds that the body needs to go through four different stages to get a great night’s sleep. They are:
If you have trouble staying asleep, your body isn’t able to go through this entire cycle. This can negatively impact your body’s function.
For instance, if you wake up before entering N3, your tissues aren’t able to fully repair and your muscles cannot grow. Wake up before going into the REM stage and your brain won’t receive the energy it needs to function efficiently the next day.
When you have poor sleep, it’s not uncommon to experience a “brain fog,” or an inability to concentrate. Research also reveals that sleep deprivation can impact the brain by negatively affecting memory, decision-making, and other cognitive functions.
Other studies have connected sleep disruption with poorer health. Short term, it can lead to mood disorders, an increased response to stress, and even the appearance of pain. If insomnia exists long-term, it can contribute to hypertension and heart disease. Not being able to consistently get a good night’s rest can also increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, colorectal cancer, and obesity.
A poor night’s sleep also increases your odds of being in an automobile accident. According to one study, this risk is especially significant for shift workers. And if you have Willis-Ekbom disease—also known as “restless leg syndrome”—your risk of crash or near-crash is elevated as well.
And especially relevant to the world of fitness: sleep is important to workout recovery. How?
When you don’t get a good night’s sleep, it hinders muscle growth. This is because sleep is when your body stores blood glucose as muscle glycogen. If your sleep schedule is disturbed, this process is hindered. Muscles don’t get the energy they need.
Research also reveals that sleep is when human growth hormone, or HGH, is released. This hormone is important to muscle recovery and is secreted in higher amounts in the first phase of slow-wave sleep. This is the phase that occurs shortly after falling asleep.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Kids should get more, ranging from 14-17 hours of sleep for newborns to 8-10 hours of sleep nightly for teens.
What can you do to help clients better reach these amounts? It begins by suggesting that they strive to create a few healthy sleep habits.
One option is an all-natural supplement like melatonin. Melatonin works by promoting a healthy sleep-wake cycle. The body does make some on its own, but supplements can help fill the gap if it doesn’t make enough. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health reports that melatonin can be helpful for lack of sleep due to jet lag, delayed sleep-wake phase disorder, and surgery-related anxiety.
Some people also find that CBD oil helps them fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. CBD stands for cannabidiol and is an extract of the cannabis plant. Unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD does not create the “high” effect typically associated with marijuana. It has also been connected to a variety of other health benefits beyond better sleep. These include pain relief, reduced anxiety and depression, and greater heart health.