6 Ways How Adequate Rest Fuels Peak Performance

6 Ways How Adequate Rest Fuels Peak Performance

Have a high-stakes challenge coming up in the next few days? Looking to ensure that your body and mind are in top condition before this big event?

Whether it’s a physical activity like a marathon or a cognitive one like a test or crucial business pitch, you want to ensure that your body and brain are at their best levels.

The motivation is simple: you want to bring your A-game to the table at what you’ve set out to do. And in order to accomplish that, you have to apply multiple positive lifestyle habits.

One of the most essential components of staying in top shape is getting enough rest. Sleep is a critical human need—in fact, if you don’t get sleep for 10 consecutive days, you’re essentially risking your life at that point.

That said, one may ask themselves: what exactly are the benefits of sleep? How does sleep keep us sharp, both physically and mentally?

Without further ado, let’s explore six potential benefits of adequate rest in greater detail.

1. Sleep enhances cognitive function

Numerous studies have shown that lacking sleep can impair short-term cognitive functions. And if you consistently find yourself sleeping poorly each night, you can also go on to develop long-term cognitive issues.

Conversely, sleeping normally allows your brain to fully go through the sleep cycles several times per night. This constant switching helps activate different chemicals in the brain, prompting recovery and good-quality rest. One of the primary benefits that one can reap with good sleep is enhanced cognitive function.

During the nREM stage of sleep, the brain restructures and reorganises the information that it has gathered throughout the day, and then sorts them to short-term or long-term memory depending on perceived importance.

This action helps create neurotransmitters that establish new links in data and information, improving memory and aiding in information retention.

For people who have to memorise and recall vast amounts of data, such as students before a test, getting enough sleep is essential for peak performance. When you lack sleep, your brain is unable to make these links at all, making it hard for you to remember crucial information.

On top of that, you also get mentally tired more easily when you lack sleep. As such, be sure to dedicate at least 7 hours of sleep a night.

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2. Sleep accelerates muscle and tissue healing

In your waking hours as an athlete or performer, you’re very likely to have utilised various muscle groups to train your body. During this training phase, your muscle fibres may break to stretch and release growth hormones.

This is a normal occurrence, but it can leave you sore for a day or two, particularly if you’ve overexerted yourself. If you want to recover from these injuries fast, then it’s highly recommended that you get enough sleep.

Sleep helps reinforce muscle strength and resilience in the body. It does this by prompting the pineal gland to release melatonin and special hormones that play a vital role in muscle recovery and repair.

Furthermore, sleep also hastens muscle recovery by reducing the level of cortisol in the body. Cortisol is a stress hormone that, when elevated, can lead to muscle wasting and proteolysis.

Given this, you must get enough sleep in the days leading up to the big event. It’s also essential that you prevent overstraining yourself so that you can give your body enough time to recover.

3. Sleep enhances emotional resiliency

A lack of sleep can alter the structure of the brain, and this is generally for the worse. One of the negative changes that may come about from this new physiological shape is worsened emotional resiliency.

When we lack sleep, it’s common for us to feel more susceptible to stress, mood swings, and anxiety. This is because the emotional centres of our brain, particularly the amygdala, have not received enough in both the NREM and REM sleep stages.

Because of insufficient sleep, we feel more receptive to negative stimuli. We are more irritable and angry, which can cause us to lash out at people and things instead of giving something our best effort.

Conversely, if we get enough sleep, we have better control of our emotional regulators. We become less likely to exhibit negative outbursts and anger, which can make for a better experience for everyone (and you especially) during crucial activities.

4. Sleep makes you a better problem-solver

Besides improving your ability to memorise information, sleep also makes you a better critical thinker and problem solver.

As mentioned earlier, during REM sleep, the brain synthesises information and forms links to multiple, disparate ideas.

Think of your brain like a computer. When you get enough REM sleep, you’re essentially increasing the processing time in which your brain can organise, process, and connect different data points, particularly new knowledge with existing memories.

Thanks to this heightened pile of information, the brain’s capacity to recognise patterns and construct new ideas essentially increases. You’ll be able to form more creative solutions to problems that may have stumped you in the past.

From there, you can make sound judgments with confidence and accuracy—all because of a few extra hours of uninterrupted sleep time.

5. Sleep bolsters your immune response

There’s no question that getting a virus or bacterial infection can be debilitating.

Not only are you infected by the brunt of foreign pathogens, but you’re also essentially out of commission in terms of productivity—which can delay training progress or put a dent in your busy work or school schedule

If you want to boost your body’s ability to fight off these foreign invaders, it’s important to get enough sleep. During rest, your body releases cytokines—special immune system warrior cells—that help fight foreign invaders, which can help prevent or cure illnesses. Besides that, sleep also improves the T cells’ ability to attack infected cells more efficiently.

Conversely, when you’re sleep deprived, both cytokines and T cells may lead to the decreased production and effectiveness of these immune cells—which can delay or worsen infections and diseases afflicting the individual.

6. Sleep improves your athletic performance

Whether you’re a professional basketball player, a high school sports varsity member, or somewhere in between—getting enough sleep is an excellent way to allow your athletic ability to soar.

There are countless minor improvements that sleep can have on the average athlete. Consistent sleep can improve the speed, accuracy, hand-eye coordination, and reaction time of an individual, for instance. It can also decrease fatigue in individuals.

Minor improvements matter a lot at the professional level as they can make or break the outcome of the game. Thus, if you want to increase your chances of a win, don’t just practise—get enough sleep too.

Non-athletes can benefit from sleep too in a similar fashion. The reaction time improvement is particularly noteworthy, as this can also improve the quality of life of everyday people.

For instance, if you’re driving and the car in front of you suddenly pushes the brake, having a fast reaction time can spell the difference between an accident or getting scot-free.

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