Why We Sleep

Throughout our Advanced Theory Course, participants are tasked with a “Major Assignment” which includes choosing a chapter or concept from a book that resonates with them and teaching it back to the class.

Michelle highlighted some incredibly important concepts from the book Why We Sleep by Matt Walker who is a professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley.

What’s the cheapest way to boost your immune system?

There are many actions that you can take to lower the risk of getting sick. Sleeping is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to boost your immunity. If you want to ensure that you feel your best and look your best, then make sure that you are able to get some good quality shut eye.

Natural Killer cells are specialized cells that help kill tumor cells, provide defense against infections and they do not distinguish between any type of virus that enter the body. They are very important to the immune system and are dependent on a good night’s sleep. 

One of the very measurable effects of sleep deprivation is shown here that with only 4 hours of sleep in 1 night, you see a 70% drop in the level of NK cells! Analysis of their blood samples showed that those whose sleep had been disrupted had decreased levels of natural killer cells (NKCs), which take their name from the way they help destroy illness-causing cells. A decreased NKC count indicates a weakened immune system and a body more vulnerable to illness. (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/01/980126060431.htm

The World Health Organization has now classified shift work as a possible carcinogen!

Quality sleep also has a direct effect on our ability to maintain a healthy and balanced diet.

There are two major hormones that dictate when we feel hungry as opposed to feeling satiated. Leptin sends signals to the brain that say you are full while Ghrelin sends signals to the brain to say that you are hungry. Studies show that when we are restricted to 4-5 hours of sleep for one week, our levels of Leptin decreased and their levels of Ghrelin increased.

The decrease in Leptin and increase in Ghrelin on average will cause someone to overeat about 200-300 calories per day which adds up to an extra 10-15lbs a year! I’m sure many of you would have laughed if I told you that to potentially lose weight all you have to do is sleep more!

Here’s some more examples of how beneficial a full night of sleep can be;

1. During the very deep stages of sleep you have bursts of electrical activity called Sleep Spindles. They serve as file transfer mechanisms that convert short term memories to long term memories. From this discovery comes the practice of Direct Current Brain Stimulation in which young, healthy individuals have been able to double the memory benefits of sleep with this direct current brain stimulation.

2. In separate studies done on rats and motor skill performance indicated that motor skill practice & sleep will enhance performance the next day by 20-30% “Sleep is the greatest legal performance enhancing drug that people are neglecting in sport.”

3. Evidence shows that every year, when 1.6 billion people are either given an extra hour of sleep or 1 hour is taken away in the spring, DayLight Savings has a direct effect on heart health.

In the fall, the following 24 hours worldwide experiences a 24% DROP in heart attacks. However, in the Spring when we lose an hour, we see a 24% INCREASE in heart attacks the following 24hour period.

4. A School District in Minnesota tried starting the day an hour later and tracked their top students SAT scores. Their scores increased from 1200 to 1500 the following year.

At CrossFit Off the Grid, we want to create an environment that takes care of your health and fitness as a whole. We can help you create better eating and sleeping habits. We can help you create a healthy fitness routine. We can help you work on mindset and consistency. We can help you.

Check out Matt Walker’s TED talk on the importance of Sleep! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MuIMqhT8DM



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