Sleep is something that I used to take for granted when I was younger. I thought I could get more done if I slept less – like sneaking in a workout at 12am instead of going to bed, or pulling all nighters in college to finish up a paper instead of just getting it done earlier in the week. I was a perfectionist and a procrastinator.
My night owl habits started in 7th grade and I didn’t stop this unhealthy habit of not sleeping enough until just a couple years ago. Unfortunately, it took me a LONG time to realize that my lack of sleep was one of the main reasons for my weight issues and stress!
Crazy right? You wouldn’t think so! But nearly 87% of Americans say they have trouble falling asleep, and if you’re one of them, listen up! I want to help you sleep more because I need you to be happy and healthy! So I’ll start off by scaring you into sleeping more :)
Here are 5 things that could happen if you don’t sleep enough!
#1. You’ll start looking old
You know how you get dark circles under your eyes after a few nights of bad sleep? Turns out that if you continuously don’t sleep enough, those eye bags are basically permanent.
Research shows that when you don’t get enough rest, your body releases a stress hormone called cortisol. In excess amounts, it can break down skin collagen – the protein that keeps your skin smooth and young.
On top of that, lack of sleep makes your body release less human growth hormone – the thing you need for daily tissue repair. It’s only during DEEP sleep that human growth hormone can be released. So if you want to stay looking young…channel your inner sleeping beauty!
#2. Your memory will deteriorate
I’ve always had such a hard time remembering people’s names or choreography for a POP Pilates routine, but I never knew it was something I could control!
If you’re trying to learn something new, like a language, you can learn it to a certain point with practice. But then when you go to bed, something happens to strengthen those practice skills that actually makes you learn it better. This process is called consolidation.
Studies have shown that college students who don’t get enough sleep have worse grades than those who do.
So bottom line? Better sleep means you’ll learn better and remember more.
#3. Your creativity will diminish
Sleeping more makes you emotionally and creatively sharp! If you’re an artist, a writer, a musician, an entrepreneur or anyone who wants to get creative and work outside the box – you need to get adequate sleep to perform your best!
While you sleep, your brain not only consolidates memories to make them stronger, it also reorganizes and restructures them. Researchers at Harvard and Boston College actually found that people can strengthen the emotional parts of their memory during sleep.
So…this means that if I’m trying to choreograph a new POP Pilates routine during the day, and I’m having a hard time remembering that after the 8 planks jacks I need to go to 4 hip twists during the chorus, then my brain will help me memorize that during sleep. My feelings of confusion during this part will be deposited somewhere in my brain. So the next day when I get to that very part where I keep messing up, I’ll remember “OH CONFUSION! This is the plank jack to hip twist part!”
#4. You’ll gain weight
Unfortunately, this is something that I didn’t realize until a few years ago. Lack of sleep messed with my metabolism, which messed up the hormones in my blood, making me feel hungry all the time. So I ended up overeating without really knowing it. And to add on to that…my lack of sleep caused stress on my body which resulted in high levels of the hormone cortisol and then an extra deposit of fat in my lower belly specifically.
Similarly, researchers at the University of Chicago found that dieters who were well rested lost more fat, whereas dieters who were sleep deprived lost more muscle mass. And you KNOW you don’t want to be losing that muscle we all work so hard for!
#5. You’ll feel angry for no reason
Sleep and mood are very closely connected! When you don’t sleep enough, you become irritable and stressed out!
University of Pennsylvania researchers tested subjects on 4.5 hrs of sleep a night for a week and the people reported feeling angry, sad, and mentally exhausted. And then you’re likely to enter a vicious cycle…where you can’t sleep because you’re stressed out!
When the subjects of the study resumed their regular sleep hours, they reported feeling so much happier! So if you feel down in the dumps sometimes and have no idea why, check your sleep patterns.
Okay, now here’s how you can get more sleep…and better quality sleep!
- Stretch or meditate before bed to slow down your body and prepare it for sleep.
- Have an intense workout earlier in the day. This always tires me out and makes me sleep like a baby.
- Set your phone to “do not disturb” so that you’re not answering texts late at night.
- Try not to look at your phone in bed. The light makes it hard for me to fall asleep.
- Try reading a book before bed. This helps calm my mind and naturally makes me drift away.
- Try to go to bed at the same time every night to create a routine that your body can follow.
Usually these tips work for me, but sometimes when I’m jet lagged and my time zones are all super messed up, I take ZzzQuil to help me fall asleep. It makes me fall asleep in as little as 20 minutes! It’s my little trick for getting my 7-8 hours of sleep after big trips. I don’t have time or energy to waste on readjusting to time, so if any of you have trouble falling asleep you might want to try ZzzQuil. I always get quality sleep and wake up feeling really refreshed.
And don’t worry, it’s not a pain med. I’ve never become dependent on it and I only use it when I need it. All it does is block the histamine in your body to help you fall asleep fast.
So guys, I hope you have decided to make sleep a part of your daily routine! It’s just as important as exercising and eating clean, but probably one of the easier things to do on your health journey. Whatever’s keeping you up – your boss, your boyfriend, your bills – just shake it off and go to bed. You’ll wake up a lot more creative and happy.
And big thanks to ZzzQuil for partnering with me on this video to encourage you guys to sleep more!