How much sleep do humans need? Well, while there is no one real answer to this question, the general accepted answer is about 7-8 hours. Some may require more, some may require less.
Sleep has been a clinically researched topic for many, many years. All the researchers came to a unanimous decision – SLEEP IS IMPORTANT! SimplyShredded.com has a very fantastic article on the science of sleep. It goes very in depth and details different facets that anyone and everyone should know when it comes to catching some ZZZ’s.
There are few topics as well accepted as “sleep” – every week someone influential will tweet “get your sleep! It’s as important as diet/exercise.” This isn’t an article disputing that instead it is an investigative look at what the actual research says. We are going to take a gander at the research conducted on sleep deprivation, and make evidence-based conclusions on how sleep affects you and your performance.
Lack of Sleep Leads to Poor Mood and Poor Workouts
Our article isn’t meant to go in depth of the science behind the hormones mentioned above (that is an article for another time), but rather make you understand just how much sleep is important. Sleep is just as important as your workout routine and as your diet, if not more important!
Bottom line is this – if you don’t sleep, your machine won’t be operating to its fullest intensity. And lack of intensity yields poor workouts, and poor mood in general.
Sleep and Hormones
Sleep affects basically all the systems of your body, as well as your hormones. Sleep deprivation can negatively influence your hormones. Which hormones? The important ones: Insulin, Cortisol, Androgen, and Growth Hormone.
Sleep Deprivation and its Effects on Hormones
The hormones that are most frequently stated to be affected by sleep are:
Insulin – One of the most misunderstood hormone there is
Androgens – The muscle-building hormones
Cortisol – The “stress” hormone
Let’s run down the list of the 4 main hormones that can be negatively affected by sleep deprivation, and then head over to this article from SimplyShredded.com, to get a more in depth look of other areas affected by oh-so-precious sleep.
Sleep deprivation doesn’t seem to affect insulin levels much, but there is definitely a decrease in insulin sensitivity in the fat cells and liver (1,2). This decrease in sensitivity can happen as easily as getting half your normal amount of sleep for less than a week (3,4) or even losing 90 minutes over a few weeks (5). This lack of sleep, coupled with decreased sensitivity, is a risk factor for the development of type II diabetes.
Testosterone is known for being affected by poor sleep (on a related note, you tend to sleep worse as you age, and this exacerbates sleep deprivation problems) (6,7). Studies have shown that getting 3 fewer hours of sleep for 5 days reduced testosterone by over 10% (8), whereas another study showed a 30.4% (9) decrease! These reductions all happened within 24 hours of sleep deprivation (10,11). Similar to insulin, getting enough rest quickly reverses this decline.
Growth hormone is actually a surprise in regards to sleep deprivation. For starters, we know that a large pulse of growth hormone occurs shortly after sleep begins, and in otherwise healthy young men, this accounts for roughly 50% of daily secretion.
Cortisol is the hormone that mediates the process of waking up, and under normal rested conditions it’s elevated in the morning (to wake you) and suppressed in the evening (so you can fall asleep). It isn’t necessarily a bad hormone (the anti-inflammatory and fat-burning properties sound nice), but elevated cortisol also tends to be somewhat catabolic to muscle tissue, as well as being an indicator of other stress-related issues.
Verdict: Get Your Sleep!
As I’m sure you can realize, these 4 hormones are of the utmost importance for proper functioning of the human body. If they are negatively affected, then you will be negatively affected. Make sure to have your sleep game on lockdown, and also make sure to most definitely visit this article from SimplyShredded.com on the science and the effects of sleep, because there is tons and tons of useful information there that will help anyone who sleeps (which means you!)