There are many reasons why sleep is important, as it improves overall health and well-being and enables individuals to perform.
It helps our brain to function and affects many different systems within our body from our emotional state to our physical state. The amount of sleep we require depends on what stage of life we are at, with a newborn requiring approximately 16 hours a day and an adult requiring around 7 hours a day.
What is also important is the quality of sleep and as this can help us perform at our best and is of utmost importance in sporting activity.
Physical importance of sleep
Growth and Development: Sleep is required for growth and development. A hormone released during sleep and in children helps us grow and develops muscle mass. So plenty of sleep allows us to be physically active and maintain our strength.
Immune system: We need sleep to help this system function properly and optimally. This is important to stop infections, helps us fight against unwanted immune diseases or helps in decreasing the risk of illness.
Health: If there is sleep deficiency there is a heightened risk of stroke, diabetes through higher blood sugar levels (insulin control), obesity, hunger hormone balance control (we can eat too much or little), heart disease, kidney disease, or high blood pressure. Getting adequate or enough sleep is important in controlling and decreasing the risk of such health issues and promoting good health.
Inflammatory response: Poor sleep is linked to increased inflammation, which is not good for injuries where we are trying to reduce inflammation. Inadequate sleep is also linked to inflammatory bowel disease. Studies have also shown that poor sleep can cause relapses in Crohn’s disease.
Emotional importance of sleep
Sleep helps us control our emotions and behaviours. Adequate sleep helps to cope with change and reduces anger, mood swings and impulsiveness, which can be detrimental to our mental well-being. Sadness and depression are also linked to reduced sleep and inadvertently could contribute to suicide attempts or taking inappropriate risks.
Emotions can affect us in work or activities and can affect the decision-making process, so having enough sleep helps control our emotions at the correct times. Happiness is crucial to living a healthy and fulfilled life and this can be affected by poor sleep as well as social interaction, which can be adversely affected.
Sports performance importance of sleep
Optimal performance is important for success and results in the sporting environment. A lack of sleep reduces concentration, which could mean the difference between winning or losing a game or a difference in cornering a car correctly in motorsports.
Fatigue and an increase in injuries or a reduction in the ability to repair are all affected by sleep and this alters performance. With decreased sleep, you are less productive in tasks and there is a reduction in the ability to learn or restore information. There are also studies to show strength, problem-solving skills, reaction times and accuracy in tasks all diminish if there is sleep deficiency.
In elite-level athletes, milliseconds can be the means to success and sleep helps in achieving this. Professional specialists in sleep can give advice at the top level of sports and alter the environment and habits to promote healthy sleep and rest. Professionals such as this now advocate quality which can be monitored through well-being questionnaires or digital monitors.
This can involve reviewing mattresses, lighting, bed linen, pillows or the restrictive use of phones and androids to improve sleep and positively affect performance.
Safety importance of sleep
If sleep is poor and not of adequate time for the stage of life you are at risk of requiring MICROSLEEP. This is when we have small moments of sleep when awake and affects concentration or is a lapse. This can affect driving and in some cases cause crashes. It affects how we perform and makes people switch off or have errors. Sleep is important for alertness and for us to function with full concentration on tasks and avoids accidents or serious problems.
How important is sleep – Very !!!