Many people tend to almost brag about how little rest they need to function, but the truth is we don’t appear to adapt to getting less sleep than we truly need. While we personally may “get used to” a sleep-depriving schedule, our judgment, reaction time, and other functions are still impaired-regardless of our awareness of it happening.
Achieving what researchers call “deep sleep” is most important, which requires consistency and enough time to experience the various cycles each night. Many of the body’s cells show increased production and reduced breakdown of proteins during deep sleep. Since proteins are the building blocks needed for cell growth and repair of damage from factors like stress and ultraviolet rays, deep sleep may truly be “beauty sleep.” Activity in parts of the brain that control emotions, decision-making processes, and social interactions is drastically reduced during deep sleep, suggesting that this type of sleep may help people maintain optimal emotional and social functioning while they are awake. Additionally, pattern repetitions that also occur during deep sleep may help encode memories and improve learning.
As a personal trainer, I’ve worked with plenty of the “hard-core” individuals who get up at 4:30am to start their workout by 5am. Guess how many of those clients actually went to be at 8:30 in order to get 8 hours of sleep? Zero. Nada. None. They didn’t get much healthier either. Sometimes they got worse. You see, you can’t steal time from one good habit and try to give it to the next, and expect to have an overall healthier life. It may not be what you want to hear, but you are going to have to take an hour from a bad habit instead.