With our trainees at The Quad, and quite a few of the communities that we’ve interacted with, we see a frequent occurrence of sleep disorders (yes, sleeping too little is a disorder). Some folks knowingly compromise on it – aware of how much sleep they are getting but unable to fix it. And others are unaware of it – either due to a tendency to not rate sleep’s importance or simply not keeping track.
And of the four pillars, it is amongst the simplest to fix. Exercise involves waking up early (or finishing work early enough) and going to the gym – at least an hour a day. Diet involves a lot of mental toughness and discipline – every day! Stress is a bit invisible, but a definite problem. But sleep involves sleeping more – how simple is that!
What happens if you sleep too little?
- It results in greater calorie consumption i.e. folks who sleep more tend to eat lesser during the day and vice-versa
- Poor sleep patterns tend to increase the symptoms of depression.
- Chronic sleep deprivation increases the risk of many diseases, including but not limited to, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, Alzheimer’s.
- You do not recover well from exercise. All the hard work you put in at the gym will not show you results, which causes one to lose motivation – and either stop training (wrong choice) or push even harder (worse choice).
- Your food cravings get worse. Yep!
Why are we not sleeping enough?
- Busyness dictates the number of hours you sleep. So, you simply dont have the hours to sleep.
- Stress and anxiety keeps you awake. The big presentation tomorrow, or just the sheer amount of work you have. And you keep thinking about it, unable to relax and sleep in a few minutes.
- You develop bad habits like watching TV to sleep, or playing around on your phone and waiting to pass out. But the artificial light plays a huge role in keeping you up, and confuses your circadian rhythm – your body’s natural system which is how you know when to eat and sleep etc
- You want to sleep more but you just end up waking up earlier than you want to.
A test to find out if you are sleeping enough
How do you know if you are sleeping enough? Try this activity out.
- Record the number of hours you sleep for a few days. This is your baseline.
- Set aside 2 days (say 2 Sundays in a row), and go to bed without an alarm. Or better yet, do this test while on vacation.
- That’s the amount of sleep your body would like.
- The recommended hours one should sleep is between 7-9 hours.
If you are on a path to better health and fitness, you can make great inroads towards your goal by just sleeping better and sleeping more. Getting healthier involves a lot of hard work and sacrifice – this is amongst the more enjoyable and simpler lifestyle changes we can make. Sleep more, get healthier!