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Article: How important is sleep? - The interview with Chris Surel

How important is sleep? - The interview with Chris Surel

A balanced diet is essential for our health. But health can't be reduced to one component but has to be viewed holistically. In addition to a healthy diet, sleep also has a significant influence on our physical and mental health. So today we will look at why sleep is so important and how we can consciously optimize our sleep to live healthier and increase our performance. 

We talked to Performance Recovery & Sleep Coach Chris Surel and the following article summarizes the most important aspects of the interview.

1. It starts with mindset.

Sure, sleep is important. Nevertheless, many consider it a annoying - even a waste of time. So people cut back on sleep here and there in order to work a little longer after all. But how sustainable is that? Is it possible to simply minimize sleep and thus gain valuable life time?

The answer is clearly no. Sleep is not a waste of time - quite the opposite. It's - like Chris says - important rest that our body needs to regenerate, recharge energy and remain sustainably efficient and healthy.

2. Why is sleep so important?

While we sleep - especially in deep sleep and the REM phase (Rapid Eye Movement) - several things happen in our body that are very important for our health, well-being and performance.

Processes that happen during sleeping:

  • Processing and storing of information
  • Mood regulation
  • Physical recovery
  • Detoxification of the brain from harmful substances
  • Strengthening of the immune system

2. How much am I supposed to sleep? And for how long?

In an ideal world, we would go to bed and get up at the same time every day and always sleep the same number of hours. Unfortunately, for many this can't be implemented in everyday life.

That's why Chris Surel recommends getting enough sleep from a weekly perspective. What does that mean in concrete terms? According to this concept, it's possible to sleep only 4.5 or 6 hours during the week. To compensate, however, longer sleeps and strategic naps should be built in on the weekends so that a weekly balance of 7.5h/night on average is met.

3. What are sleep cycles and why are they important?

A sleep cycle consists of 90 minutes. We start off with a light sleep, then fall into a deep sleep phase, followed by another light sleep and then REM phase. After the REM phase, we are in a state where our body is ready to wake up and a sleep cycle is complete - we practically wake up briefly, but most people don't even realize it. During the night we usually go through 4-5 of these cycles.

An interesting question is whether it's better to sleep 6 hours of 7 hours. Here is Chris' answer: quite clearly 6 hours. When we wake up in the middle of a deep sleep, "sleep drunkenness" occurs (which everyone has surely already experienced). So you should always set your alarm for the end of sleep cycle.

Of course, you also need a time to fall asleep which you should add to the number of hours - the more you work on it, the shorter the time to fall asleep and the more accurately you can plan.

4. What defines good sleep?

Laut Chris gibt es drei gute Indikatoren für die Schlafqualität:

i) The time we need to reach the first deep sleep phase (ideally: 30 minutes)

ii) The number of deep sleep stages per night (ideally: 4-5)

iii) The percentage of deep sleep out of total sleep time (ideally: 20%)

Many people evaluate their sleep by how long it takes them to fall asleep and whether they wake up during the night. But it's much more important to perceive: what is my energy level when I wake up?

5. "I always sleep 7-8 hours but I'm still tired."

For a large proportion of people, the reason is that you don't get enough deep sleep. Regeneration takes place during deep sleep and is therefore so important, in other words, maximize the deep sleep phases.

5. How do I maximize my deep sleep?

- Avoid or minimize caffeine / alcohol before sleep (also green tea, chai, ...)

- Avoid short-chain carbohydrates before sleep (negative influences especially for the first deep sleep phase)

- Prepare the bedroom: cool, very dark (use eye patches if necessary) and quite (noises often lift you from deep sleep to light sleep --> earplugs)

- Prepare hormonally: Ease your mind (write diary), not too much bright light (keyword melatonin release, CBD oil (higher heart rate variability)

- Rhythm: try to build a regularity over weeks/months to train your body

- Minimize disturbing factors: everything that unintentionally brings us out of a deep sleep phease, e.g. pets

 

If you still have questions about this topic or want to learn more, feel free to check out www.chrissurel.com or have a look at Chris Instagram Account @chrissurel. You can also watch the interview live here.