We share expert advice on incorporating running into a healthy lifestyle.
*This originally appeared on Fit Mix Mom
You snooze, you lose.
These days a lot of us abide by this phrase, thinking it will help us get ahead in life. But it isn’t exactly a good mantra to live by if it means you’re not getting enough rest. A less-is-more mentality with sleep inevitably leads to big physical and cognitive consequences.
Adequate sleep is a very basic and absolutely necessary need. A full session of serious shuteye can freshen your body, senses, and mind. Why in the world do we think it’s obstructing our path to success, when really it’s a key to unlock our true potential?
Your new mantra: If you want to succeed, get the sleep you need!
Here’s what happens when you actually get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep:
You stop being such a grump.
Ever notice after just one night of poor or no sleep, everything just agitates the crap out of you? You want to shoot the cheerful birds singing outside the moment you wake up. Every driver out there is trying to make you late for work. Your kid’s off-tune singing grates on your last nerve. It’s no surprise, really. Just one night of subpar sleep can cause changes in the brain that make you more irritable, angry, and unfriendly. Chronic deprivation can contribute to depression and other psychiatric disorders. Nobody wants to struggle through the day in a bad mood, so do yourself (and the people around you) a favor and sleep like you’re supposed to!
You stop overreacting.
When you’re not well rested, things seem a lot worse than they really are. Your brain hasn’t recovered fully, and this causes a drastic emotional disconnect. The smallest negative occurrence triggers an overreaction. You literally cry over spilled milk. You yell for no good reason. You just can’t handle anything and become that crazy drama queen everyone (even you) wants to avoid. Don’t be that person!
You lose weight (finally).
There are several interacting reasons for this. Firstly, if you’re low on sleep, certain hormones will be out of whack, leading to overeating and increased cravings for high-calorie, sugary, fatty foods. Lack of sleep also affects your metabolism and the stress hormone cortisol, which makes your body hold on to belly fat. Plus you’re going to be tired, making it difficult to stick to your workout regimen. Even your fat cells can’t function right. The ultimate results of all this are demonstrated by a remarkable University of Chicago study. Researchers found that individuals who spent 8.5 hours in bed lost 55 percent more fat than those getting 5.5 hours. Additionally, the sleep-deprived lost 60 percent more muscle mass (a bad thing). All in all, if you skimp on sleep, your fat loss will be limited despite how hard you’re trying.
You stop being so stupid.
If you’re lacking rest, you just can’t think straight. You’re going to be less productive and make dumb mistakes. After several nights of getting just one or two hours less than usual, your ability to function suffers as if you haven’t slept at all for a day or two, according to the National Institutes of Health. In such a zombified state, you won’t perform your best at work (and your boss may notice). If you’re in a life-critical position, such as a doctor or nurse, those mindless mistakes could be completely disastrous. Additionally, a well-rested brain is critical for learning and memory. Research shows students who got enough sleep the night before an exam got better grades than their sleep-deprived counterparts. Makes sense, since your unfocused brain struggles to learn and recall information.
You’re less likely to get sick.
Lack of sleep is a key contributor to immune deficiency. Studies show that even one night of reduced sleep alters immune markers, thus making you more susceptible to infections and viruses like the common cold and flu. Making sleep a priority could make the difference between crashing or cruising through sick season. Even if you do get sick, you’ll recover faster. So start giving your body what it needs to fight fiercely and get your daily dose of vitamin Z!
You’re a safer driver.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that in 2013, driving while sleepy was responsible for at least 72,000 crashes. Additionally, 17 percent of all fatal crashes involve a drowsy driver. In fact, driving drowsy is the cognitive equivalent of driving drunk! Plus we’re pretty terrible at perceiving our own sleep-drunk state as we gulp down our grande lattes and tell ourselves we’re totally okay. Stop putting yourself and others in danger and get your sweet slumber!
You hurt less.
An adequate daily dose of sleep could reduce your pain pill-popping habit. According to a recent study, poor sleep quality is a strong predictor of widespread pain. It’s no wonder, since lack of sleep causes changes in inflammatory markers, which affect everything from pain levels to joint health to risk of heart disease and diabetes. It’s interesting to note that chronically sleep-deprived individuals have a much higher likelihood of developing painful conditions like fibromyalgia. Getting enough sleep helps reduce inflammation and lessen all kinds of discomforts, including musculoskeletal and arthritis-related pains.
You become an amazing athlete.
Okay, maybe you won’t reach Olympian status overnight, but the evidence is in—you snooze, you win! Multiple studies have demonstrated a link between increased sleep and improved athletic performance. One such study involving collegiate basketball players showed that with a goal of 10 hours (yes, 10!) of sleep per night, players improved sprint times and shooting accuracy. The athletes also reported a sharper mental game and feeling physically better overall. If you’re not an elite athlete, sleep extension would still help fitness endeavors of any sort. Rest assured (literally)—you can be at the top of your health game if you get your rest!
You’re better in bed.
Not just better at literally sleeping. As if all of the above wasn’t enough to make you want to hit the hay religiously, your newfound energy brings other benefits in bed. It’s a scientific fact—more sleep = more sex. A night of poor sleep can leave you just too tired and can really kill the mood, but get your Z’s and you’ll be ready to please! According to one study, women who got an extra hour of sleep had increased sexual desire and a higher likelihood of having sex the next day. In addition, men who get inadequate sleep have lower testosterone levels, which really puts a damper on desire. So it’s pretty clear—more sleep leads to more action in the sheets. Who wouldn’t want that bonus?