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Sleep Your Way to A Better Brain & Body

Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

The Tooth and Nothing But the Tooth!

Just as toast goes perfectly with jam, so does sleep go with total fitness. When you’re asleep, numerous good things happen to your mind and body (including the occasional visit from the tooth fairy)!

Memory & Learning:
One very important benefit of proper sleep is the help it gives you with learning and memory. Whether you’re 60 and trying to navigate the intricacies of Facebook (the fastest growing segment of Facebook users in the past 2 years has been females aged 48-64), or a 20 year old college student trying to study for an exam, getting some sleep after going through the material will help you master the information.

Time for a nap!

In a 2010 Harvard study, volunteers learned a complex maze. Some of them then took a 90 minute nap. The only people who increased their performance on a second attempt at the maze were those who dreamed about it during their naps. The researchers concluded that the brain was reactivating and reorganizing the recently learned material during the nap.

Cat nap or Car nap?

 

 

But let’s face it – few people have 90 minutes in the day for a nap. If we did, we’d probably just get the 8-9 hours (20 year olds need 9-10) of sleep that our bodies actually need each night. Good news – a German study found that a short, six-minute nap helped participants recall a list of 30 words they had memorized earlier.

How can he sleep through those stripes?

 

Weight Loss:
In our recent post about the 3 stealth saboteurs of weight loss, we mentioned how less than 6 hours of sleep can be correlated with weight gain. According to research from the University of Michigan, an extra hour of sleep each night can help you drop 14 pounds per year. Maybe because you are sleeping instead of snacking! Also, hormones are a tricky thing, and being awake so much can rev up your appetite! And in a study that just came out today (Oct. 25, 2012), a review of 15 years of research “indicate an effect of partial sleep deprivation on body weight management.” Partial sleep deprivation, an energy imbalance, and weight gain prevention and weight loss promotion are all linked! More than 35 percent of American adults are obese and more than 28 percent sleep less than six hours a night, and the study authors found these two to be correlated.

To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub.

Creativity:
The Harvard study also discovered that those whose naps were long enough to enter REM sleep did 40% better on a test of creativity than nappers who didn’t get any REM sleep and non-nappers. That REM sleep gave the brain time and the ability to work creatively on the problems that had been posed for the test.

So forget the caffeine and alcohol; forget the all-nighters; and forget whatever it is you forgot because you’re overtired! Acting like “an adult” is just making us overweight, grumpy and dull. Better to act like a kindergartener and take a nap!

Stay awake long enough for your twitchy finger to press the subscription buttons for our YouTube channel and blog. Follow us on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit. Please also follow us on Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click on the icons in the right sidebar.

Photo credits:  Melody Campbell (Dream Tree),  modenadude (Man in Car),  marsmet551 (woman with alarm clock),  AntEater Theater (man in striped shirt)

About Fun and Fit

Get practical exercise advice, your fitness questions answered, and cutting edge health edu-tainment that is accessible and doable from long time fitness experts, Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA. We have taught on land, sea, and airwaves for 3 decades on 4 continents. From writing to speaking, emceeing to hosting a radio show, reviewing products to teaching classes, we believe that little steps turn into big paths. Move a little more than the day before. FitFluential Ambassadors and award-winners both online and off.

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9 Responses to Sleep Your Way to A Better Brain & Body

  1. Melissa @ The Melissa Chronicles October 26, 2012 at 3:03 pm #

    So true. Mind & body totally function better (and much more sane) when I’m consistent with getting enough rest. A late night here and there is a given, but I’m learning to say no in order to make rest a priority.
    Melissa @ The Melissa Chronicles recently posted..I AM FitFluentialMy Profile

  2. Tamara October 26, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

    I’m a big believer in naps. When I was a child, I came home and napped every day after school. My mom says that it took me several years to be able to get through a full day of school without my afternoon nap.

    I still need one, but rarely carve out the time. And peri-menopause just seems to be making my need greater…
    Tamara recently posted..#FatblasterFriday | Hi-Lo LEGS Workout!My Profile

  3. Debbie October 28, 2012 at 2:29 pm #

    I love naps! And since my naps tend to be long and deep, I’m glad to see that’s a good thing. Unfortunately, having this little annoying thing called a job puts a crimp in my weekday napping plans.
    Debbie recently posted..Taking Steps to #OptimizeHealthMy Profile

  4. Calla Gold October 29, 2012 at 9:41 am #

    Sleep is so important, physically and mentally, and it’s great to see that that knowledge is spreading. Personally, I love to take a good…. *yawn* …. uh, a good…… zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  5. Neeraj November 6, 2012 at 9:41 pm #

    Great article….completely agree wid u on this…Sound sleep is always an essential ingredient for a better and healthy life…apart from the information given abv,i wud like to add tht the following also helps in getting a better sleep….regular exercise,yoga,sun salutations..to name a few…

    Besides there are certain foods which can aid in sound sleep…check it out

    http://health-osphere.blogspot.in/2012/11/sleep-well-food-that-helps-you-sleep.html
    Neeraj recently posted..HEALTH BENEFITS OF ALMONDSMy Profile

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