How Sleep Affects Your Health: Why I Stick to the Grandma Schedule

I love sleeping. If I could count sleeping as an extracurricular activity or a hobby on my resume without looking lazy, I would! Unfortunately, getting adequate sleep can sometimes be equated with sloth or boringness or lack of initiative. New York is so bad about this -- it's not called "the city that never sleeps" without reason. People here seem to resent sleep. Like they expect you to work all the time and then to go out for drinks afterwards, neglecting pillow time until the wee hours of the night. Then you're expected to wake up, workout, and beat your boss into the office. Day after day. No wonder New Yorkers are so stereotypically cranky, right?

It may not surprise you to know that just like my views on alcohol are counter-cultural for NYC, so are my views on sleep. Sleep is essential for my happiness and my health, and I prioritize it. 

As your friendly personal trainer/nutrition coach/yoga instructor, I am hereby giving you permission to prioritize adequate sleep (Sorry, young moms. I can't really help you guys get your babies to sleep, but I can give you something to look forward to once they get into a regular sleeping schedule). 

Why Sleep Is Important?

Your body needs sleep. Period. Your body needs time to recover from your workouts and your life. In order for your body and muscles to grow, they need time to repair. Sleep has been shown to help prevent injury and promote proper brain function.

Lack of adequate sleep is linked with diabetes, heart disease, obesity, hormone imbalances, mental health disorders, and more.

How Many Hours of Sleep Should You Be Getting Each Night?

Everybody is different. Some people can feel restfully satiated with just 6 hours of sleep, others need closer to 10 hours. That's why most people generalize it to around 8 hours of sleep each night. Nobody's body is happy about 3 hours of sleep, especially on any sort of consistent basis. 

Do Naps Actually Work?

They sure do! A 20-40 minute nap can significantly improve your mental alertness. A study at NASA on sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34% and alertness 100%. It's like a luxurious mini-vacation for your body and your brain. 

So next time someone makes you feel lazy or lame for going to bed at 10pm, forget about it. You're healthier for it. 

Sleep on, my friends!