Many of us start of a New Year with big goals - to live healthier, to learn something new, to achieve more. But as the weeks go on, it becomes a little harder to stay on track. What were my resolutions again? Many of us don’t realize (or don’t appreciate) just how big a role sleep can play in choosing healthier habits and achieving those goals.
Whether it’s New Years, or just starting the week off fresh, getting a good night’s rest could make all the difference in setting you up for success.
“Sleep deprivation affects the brain in ways that can be detected through imaging. Lack of sleep alters the brain's metabolism; it produces less growth hormone. Some parts of the brain become much less active as your sleep debt grows, while others become busier as they attempt to compensate.”
It’s not just your imagination: when you’re tired, your brain just doesn’t work the same. Here’s some ways that SLEEP can help you achieve your goals, big and small:
When we’re tired, in addition to not thinking as clearly, our brains tend to focus more on short-term benefits (i.e. “this chocolate will taste good” or, “it’s more comfortable here on the couch”) than the long-term consequences. Sleep empowers us to make meaningful choices that will help us reach our goals.1,2
There’s actually a reason that when you’re tired, you eat more. When we’re sleep deprived, our hormones get out of whack, making us feel more hungry, less satiated and overall stressed. And more often than not, we reach for sugary treats and other junk foods, instead of healthier options - because, quite simply, that's what our body craves when it's lacking sleep.
A study of 1.1 million people revealed increasing BMI (body mass index) for those with habitual sleep amounts below 7–8 hours each night. On top of that, when sleep deprived, metabolism can slow down, as our body goes into survival mode.³
When we’re sleep deprived, our ability to concentrate decreases. Thinking is harder, vision blurry, and we forget things. If you’re trying to learn another language, read more or just concentrate, being tired is not going to help. Countless studies (not to mention personal experience) have shown that when you don't get enough sleep, your ability to focus and retain information is significantly diminished.⁴ So, put your best foot forward: get enough sleep!
When we sleep, our cells regenerate and bodies recover. Results from training are realized as the body repairs itself. So, when we're sleep deprived, not only are we missing out on those adaptations, but decreased brain activity causes slower reaction times and more difficulty with fine motor skills.
A Stanford University Study found that college football players who slept at least 10 hours a night improved their average sprint times and had more stamina on the field.
Your chances of feeling better about your goals having a positive outlook on life are greatly improved with a good night of sleep. People with insomnia have greater levels of depression and anxiety than those who sleep normally. In fact, the Sleep Foundation found that without enough sleep, people were 10 times as likely to have clinical depression and 17 times as likely to have clinical anxiety.⁵
Even if we’re slipping or having a hard day, having enough sleep can help us have a positive attitude and keep on track (and probably be more fun to be around).
There’s really just one thing I can control: my attitude during the journey, which is what keeps me feeling steady and stable, and what keeps me headed in the right direction. So I consciously monitor and correct, if necessary, because losing attitude would be far worse than not achieving my goal.”
― Chris Hadfield, An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth
Anything worth doing typically takes effort. Unfortunately, without enough sleep, our ability to devote energy to a task - even mundane ones - gets significantly reduced.⁶ Yet, that's exactly what achieving goals takes - step by step, day by day, moving forward towards a greater objective. The important thing to remember is to enjoy the journey (and get enough sleep while you're at it)!
Needing help falling asleep? Check out these tips for quality sleep on the blog. Also, try GQ6 rēküvr to fall asleep naturally, while benefitting from a muscle recovering blend of electrolytes & BCAA's.