Actually you will. He was terrible. Why sleep is important:
The first scientific studies to examine the effects of sleep deprivation in rats revealed some pretty harsh results: weight loss despite increased food intake, skin lesions, elevated stress, and even death.
Why do we need to sleep? My favorite reason was always my dad’s reminder that “there’s nothing good happening after 10 o’clock.” But aside from the lack of light and safe, wholesome entertainment, sleep has clear restorative properties. Did you know that every single one of your 37-some trillion cells has an internal clock? They need sleep to keep those clocks ticking on schedule, and to perform their jobs.
Sleep is especially important for our brains: our brain muscles are the main sites of training adaptations. The motor cortex, or the part of our brains that controls movement, learns best during sleep. That’s when it replays movements and makes new and improved neuromuscular connections.
And when you’re pushing the limits of your biological performance, sleep becomes even more critical to recover from training. The more you move, the more sleep time you need to fully adapt to that training load. In fact, there may be a dose-response relationship between sleep and performance: the more you sleep, the better you perform.
This study on Stanford University basketball players provides great insight into the importance of zonking out. After seven weeks of a minimum ten hours of sleep per night, athletes improved sprint times, shooting percentage, and reaction time. They probably improved their test scores, moods, and pickup lines, although those data weren’t recorded. But despite all this evidence of the benefits of sleep extension, most athletes regularly complain of not getting nearly enough sleep.
As an athlete, it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll die from not getting enough sleep. If you can’t get at minimum seven hours a night, you should really bump down the training intensity. What happens if you don’t get enough sleep to match your training?
- Your nervous system is in a constant state of stress. This simulates or even causes overtraining syndrome, which can end a career.
- Not enough sleep or poor sleep quality diminish growth hormone release. This important anabolic hormone is mainly released during sleep, and it’s sleep cycle-dependent.
- Compared with sleeping 8+ hours, there’s a 70% increase in injury prevalence. This can be directly attributed to the lack of tissue repair and stressed nervous system that come with sleep deprivation.
- Cognitive performance is impaired. Whether you’re a student or an important professional, lack of sleep diminishes alertness, reaction time, memory, and decision making.
- Your immune system can become dysfunctional. In addition to increasing injury prevalence, this can mean more susceptibility to infections and general doldrums.
And the research that says more than eight hours could have negative consequences? That probably applies more to the 80% of adults that aren’t exercising every day. The bottom line is, if you’re regularly moving, you need more sleep. Otherwise you won’t be able to move any more, which is associated with much worse health outcomes.
So get some sleep! It’s probably something you should be tracking, at least for a few days. Just don’t let the blue light of your smartphone keep you up too late.