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Monday, October 2, 2017

Military Study Highlights Performance Benefits of Sleep-Tips and Tricks for Better Rest!

Sleep-The rejuvenating mystery that keeps us in good health and settles our stresses so that we may function at our fullest capacity. While cutting back on sleep might seem like a good time when seemingly more important things are pressing our time it does damage out intellectual and physical performance according to sleep deprivation studies of military recruits (Miller, et.al., 2008). Sleep may be a deciding factor between stellar and mediocre performance.

The 4-year longitudinal study looked at the United States Navy's Military Academy and the result of extending sleep time from 6 hours to 8 hours per night. The researchers evaluated approximately 1,300 students for 30-days during the spring and fall semesters.What they found was that increasing sleep from 6 to 8 also increased academic performance by 11% in academics and a similar performance increase in physical capabilities.

Sleep is a necessity for high mental and physical performance. Yet we often skimp on our sleep when we are busy and this could limit our growth and development at the gym. One must wonder why we should put in all this effort if we are not going to let our bodies fully recover and reap full rewards from its efforts? Primarily, it is because we don't see the one-for-one benefits of sleep.

Hours in the gym and "hitting the books" does have its benefits but there is a constant need for balancing with downtime. Those who don't get enough sleep are often overweight, have higher levels of anxiety, and have slower recovery times. The study helps highlight only a sliver of what sleep can do for us. Without sleep all types of mental and physical issues may arise.

Those who may be having difficulties getting sleep may want to follow a few tips and tricks:

1. Turn off electronic equipment and bright lights a half hour before sleep to ensure the brain doesn't get confused.

2. Avoid caffeine and lots of sugar 3-4 hours before sleep.

3. Turn off all lights and keep the room as dark as possible.

4. Make sure you have a quiet place to sleep.

5. Turn the temperature down to 65-67 degrees to improve sleep.

6. Comfortable clothing, mattress and pillows.

Miller, et. al. (2008). Sleep and Academic Performance in U.S. Military Training and Education Programs. Mind, Brain, Education, 2, (1).

Permission to repost with appropriate attribution-Dr. Murad Abel

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