Importance of sleep


A recent article about a sleep coach helping sports stars meeting their potential. It shares how Nick Littlehales the sleep Coach has helped stars like Ryan Giggs, Didier Drogba, Bradley Wiggins and Sir Chris Hoy.

This article really got me thinking about sleep and its effect on the mind and body.

  • Increased risk of heart disease
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Rapid aging
  • Obesity
  • Mental sluggishness and poor concentration, which effects learning and memory
  • Depression
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Low energy levels during the day
  • Stress on the immune system (insomnia keeps infection-fighting hormones from being released during deep sleep)


Why does the body need sleep:

  • Body Maintenance: Sleep is essential for healthy cell growth and for cell and tissue repair.
  • Growth and Development: Children need much more sleep than adults to allow for the necessary growth and development changes in their bodies to occur properly. During sleep, growth hormones are released, and these hormones are crucial to proper physical and mental development. The effects (positive and negative) of sleep for babies and children are magnified depending on whether they get enough sleep or insufficient sleep. For example, tired children are often cranky, uncooperative, and difficult.
  • Immune System: Sleep enables the immune system to function effectively. Without proper sleep, the immune system can become weakened and, as a result, the body may become more vulnerable to infection and disease. During deep sleep, the body’s cells increase production while proteins break down at a slower rate.
  • Memory, Learning and Social Processes: Sleep enables the brain to encode and store recently received information. REM sleep activates the parts of the brain that deal with learning. During sleep, various parts of the brain slow down, including the parts of the brain that control emotions, decision-making and social interactions. The resting of these parts of the brain during sleep allow optimal performance when awake. Without sufficient sleep, people are far less effective at learning new skills or retaining or recalling recently learned information.
  • Nervous System: Neurons regenerate and repair during sleep so that our bodies can continue to function as effectively as possible both physically and mentally. In people that experience sleep deprivation, neurons become unable to perform effectively and nervous system function is impaired. In people who have suffered extreme sleep deprivation, drastic and permanent brain and personality changes can occur.


One of the most interesting part of the lack of sleep, from The Possible Mind perspective, is how it effects the immune system. An article titled the
10 Scariest Side Effects of Sleeplessness help clarify why we feel this:

…individuals who received less than seven hours of sleep a night were almost three times more likely to develop the common cold than those who received eight or more hours of sleep. Even more worrisome, a weakened immune system can lead to chronic disease and severe infections. Several studies have put forth data that suggests a link between the production of disease-fighting cells (white blood cells) and adequate sleep.

With the effects that the lack of sleep can have on your body it worth listening to Nick – The sleep Coach as to how he feels you could improve your sleep:

  • You should be able to lie comfortably on your mattress with no pillow.
  • Hard mattresses are not generally good for you. It’s a myth.
  • Check the environment. Light, noise and temperature can ruin your sleep without you knowing.
  • Try to wake up to natural light.
  • Inexpensive washable linen is best. Fresh linen facilitates good sleep.
  • Don’t buy a super-warm duvet. You will overheat as you sleep.

Source: Daily Mail Online

Here are three other tips to aid sleep:

  • Go to bed earlier — and at a set time. Sounds obvious right? The problem is there’s no alternative. You’re already waking up at the latest possible time you think is acceptable. If you don’t ritualize a specific bedtime, you’ll end up finding ways to stay up later, just the way you do now.
  • Start winding down at least 45 minutes before you turn out the light. You won’t fall asleep if you’re all wound up from answering email, or doing other work. Create a ritual around drinking a cup of herbal tea, or listening to music that helps you relax, or reading a dull book.
  • Write down what’s on your mind — especially unfinished to-do’s and unresolved issues — just before you go to bed. If you leave items in your working memory, they’ll make it harder to fall asleep, and you’ll end up ruminating about them if you should wake up during the night.

Source: Harvard Business Review

We at The Possible Mind want to assist you in improving your recovery, pain management and performance and if getting more sleep can make that difference we can help.

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