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Why sleep is your secret weapon - here's to why you should clock in 8 hours on your mattress

Why sleep is your secret weapon - here's to why you should clock in 8 hours on your mattress

The most powerful tool we have for being at the top of our game is also the oldest – sleep.

Athletes have long known the benefits of deep sleep for enhancing recovery and unlocking optimum performance. Usain Bolt is said to clock in 10 hours a night, and when Andy Murray won Wimbledon for the second time in 2016, he was sleeping 12 hours a night.

“Sleep is extremely important to me – I need to rest and recover in order for the training I do to be absorbed by my body” – Usain Bolt.

It’s not just sports stars who have made getting their 8 hours or more a non-negotiable part of their regime – business superstars are also waking up to the the performance-enhancing power of sleep.

Jeff Bezos, chief executive of Amazon has said that his eight hours minimum of sleep each night are good for his shareholders – better sleep means better business decision-making for Bezos and team. While Huffington post Founder Arianna Huffington quit the Huffington Post to launch a new business that’s entirely devoted to helping people sleep better, believing that the more rested we are the more we can do:

“The need for eight hours’ sleep is evolutionary, it’s not negotiable. If we ignore that need, we pay a huge price in every aspect of our health and cognitive performance.” - Arianna Huffington

Getting your zzzzzs (of course preferably on our JUNO mattress) has never been more of the zeitgeist it would seem, living a healthy life is more in focus of today's society than ever before - even the interest in a good quality health mattress (that has once been so neglected) is on the rise. But why is sleep so powerful – and why should active bodies make sleep an indispensable part of their regime?

When we work out, we use up energy and fluids and break down muscle. This is all good – it’s the breaking down of muscle that allows them to repair and get stronger. But we need to take appropriate post-workout steps to supercharge our recovery time.    

Hydrating and choosing the right fuel is just one part of that. We also need a deep state of doing nothing so that the body’s reparative functions can kick in. We need sleep.

It’s thought that sleep helps improve athletic performance because this is when growth hormone is released. Growth hormone stimulates muscle growth and repair, bone building and fat burning, and helps athletes recover.

Over 95 per cent of the daily amounts of these hormones are released during sleep, and studies show that sleep deprivation actually slows the release of growth hormone. If an athlete has a short or interrupted sleep, they are not fully tapping in to their natural recovery process.

It’s not just optimum muscle repair and increased fat burning that makes sleep an active body’s best friend though. Deep sleep also boosts the immune system, improves cognitive function and regulates your appetite. That can mean fewer colds, fewer mistakes (and injuries) and better food choices.   

“Sleep is the single most effective thing you can do to reset your brain and body,” – Dr. Matthew Walker, Director of the Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory at University of California, Berkley

It’s only recently that science has been able to prove what athletes and fitness professionals have long known – deep sleep makes a measurable positive difference to performance and recovery time.  

Cheri Mah of the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic and Research Laboratory, US has been following the sleep patterns and athletic performance of Stanford athletes for years. Her research shows that getting more sleep leads to better sports performance for all types of athletes.

In a 2009 study, Mah followed the Stanford University women's tennis team for five weeks as they attempted to get 10 hours of sleep each night. Those who increased their sleep time ran faster sprints and hit more accurate tennis shots than while getting their usual amount of sleep.

Of course it’s not just athletic performance that’s boosted by sleep but everyday performance too. Studies upon studies have shown how poor sleep weakens the immune system, impairs learning and memory, contributes to depression and other mood and mental disorders, as well as obesity, diabetes, cancer and early death. Bad sleep can literally be deadly. Making prioritizing your eight hours rest not just a performance enhancing choice. It’s life-enhancing.




Image credit: https://uk.pinterest.com/pin/47428602305833298/


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