If there’s one thing we underestimate, it’s sleep. When it comes to our health and fitness goals, the emphasis is so often placed on exercise and diet, but sleep is just as vital. Here’s a few things that will help you recognise the importance of getting enough quality sleep.

1. Sleep keeps us young

We produce 70% of our daily Human Growth Hormone (HGH) during sleep. This is the same hormone that is often taken as a performance enhancing drug, except athletes take a less powerful, synthetic version. We produce the real one for FREE while we sleep!

HGH enhances our recovery from strenuous training, by rapidly repairing our tissues. So after a tough fitness session over at Bootcamp, or a day of CrossFit training, we need a good night’s sleep to boost HGH levels and recover for the next day.

HGH is also referred to as the Youth Hormone because of its rejuvenating properties. As children, we have much higher levels of HGH, which slowly decline as we grow older. Getting quality sleep is the best way to maintain our HGH levels, and by doing so maintain the condition of our skin, bones, muscles and neural tissues. Heard of “beauty sleep”? HGH is the science behind that popular phrase.

2. Sleep helps us manage body fat

Sleep deprivation plays havoc with our hormones, which can make it extremely difficult to manage body fat effectively. A single night of sleep deprivation can increase insulin resistance to the level of a type-2 diabetic, which means blood pressure goes up, the brain is under-fuelled, we start to crave sugary foods and we become really good at storing fat.

Getting enough good quality sleep makes us better at regulating our appetite, makes us more active and improves our metabolism. It’s essential when it comes to reaching those weight loss goals!

3. Sleep makes us live longer

Most of us recognise the phrase “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” as something successful people say. It sounds cool… but it’s actually ridiculous. The leading cause of death in the UK is Alzheimer’s disease, which is caused by the buildup of amyloid plaques in the brain. While we sleep, after a long day of focusing on daily life, blood flow to our brain is rapidly increased in order to detox and remove these plaques. This cleaning process is 10x more active when we sleep compared to when we are awake and has been referred to by experts as the “brain bath”. It’s no surprise then that chronic sleep deprivation is one of the main causes of Alzheimer’s disease, and that getting good quality sleep is vital for our longevity.

Sleep might be the missing piece of your puzzle

Your CrossFit and Bootcamp training might be on point, you’ve worked to dial in your diet, so now it’s time to get to bed on time. Working on developing better sleep habits could be a game changer and the next step to achieving your health and fitness goals.