Luxury or Necessity?

Filed under :Exercise, Health promoting

One of my favorite things to do is sleep.  Many people view this as a luxury, something you do if you have the time for, or don’t think much of sleep at all.

Sleep is actually a necessity! It is not “something that you get to do when you die” as many people love to say harshly to someone that complains to be tired. It is something that you do when you are tired and your body asks for it.

Sleep is as important to our body’s health as eating food and drinking water.  Did you know, you can actually die faster from lack of sleep then lack of food? The usual recommendation is 8 hours of sleep per night.  However, this may not be true for all individuals.  Today we know, with the help of several research studies, that we all differ in the amount of sleep that our body requires every night. This difference is in our genes!  Some may feel well rested at 6 hours per night and others need 9 hours (including me).

Many people have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night. This may cause you to feel tired during the day. This in turn can basically ruin your whole day by having a bad attitude, getting fewer things done, and actually consuming more unhealthy foods (craving sugary fatty foods). The first thing people usually do is get help with some natural remedies (which don’t always work) or go straight to the meds (which can cause dependency with other unwanted side effects).  What you should really turn to is getting more physical activity into your day to help with the quality of your sleep at night.

A recent study, featured in the journal for Mental Health and Physical Activity, concluded that people sleep significantly better and feel more alert during the day if they get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week.  I have been experiencing this for years but most people need hard evidence to be convinced. The study looked at more than 2,600 men and women, ages 18-85 – 65% improvement in sleep quality was reported.

I love to remind people that physical activity is not just good for the waistline, heart, or mind. Physical activity has many more benefits, such as a better quality sleep.  A better quality of sleep means a better day, and the cycle keeps on going with positive outcomes!

We all reach a stage in life in which we know the number of hours of sleep we need to feel great the following day (I realized my number was 9 early in life, for others it might take longer to learn).  Make sure to give it to your body.  Don’t skip on sleep during the week and try to make it up on the weekends – you can never make up sleep. Your skipped it, you lost it!

To improve the quality of sleep, exercise on a regular basis – you will feel the difference on your first night. Remember that sleep is not a luxury, it’s a necessity!