I don’t know if you’re like me and have to set multiple alarms on early mornings. I even have phrases saved as the alarm titles like “wake up and make money” or “wake your a** up!” thanks to my lovely husband. We all know that sleep is ridiculously important… for daily body function, brain performance, energy, and of course recovery from exercise. Something I hear all too often is that people are having to consume endless amounts of coffee and energy drinks just to keep up with their day. This can create a vicious cycle. I definitely understand that some schedules are just straight up insane… and kids can drain all of your energy within minutes. But I want you to stop and think for a moment about a few things:
1. How much sleep am I getting per night? The average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep, with needs varying on activity level, age and sleep debt (accumulated sleep loss).
2. Is it possible for me to fit more sleep into my schedule? Be real with yourself. Yes, you have real responsibilities and time constraints. But is there one netflix show you could cut back on to ensure you get proper rest? Or maybe one thing you could rearrange in your day to sneak in a nap or get to bed earlier?
3. You may feel “fine” with your coffee or energy drinks, but have you ever given REAL thought to how better sleep might be MORE beneficial and reduce the need for these energy aids?
4. Do you feel like you are eating healthy and training hard but not seeing results? Here’s something about sleep that should win you over, if you aren’t yet convinced of its importance. Getting fewer than seven hours of sleep per night can reduce and even undo the benefits of diet and exercise. In a study where dieters cut back on their sleep, the amount of fat they lost also got cut by 55%, even though they stuck to their diet! They also felt significantly more hungry, less satisfied after meals, and lacked energy to exercise. Sleep deprivation causes metabolic grogginess, where fat cells become 30% less sensitive to insulin, leading to more fat storage and higher risk for type-2 diabetes. Fewer than 6 hours of sleep nightly for a week can reduce testosterone by up to 15%, too! Goodbye, gains! (source)
So, what can you do to pave the way for better sleep? Here are some tips you could try (not all will work for everyone!) from the National Sleep Foundation:
- Establish consistent sleep and wake schedules, even on weekends
- Create a regular, relaxing bedtime routine such as soaking in a hot bath or listening to soothing music – begin an hour or more before the time you expect to fall asleep
- Create a sleep-conducive environment that is dark, quiet, comfortable and cool
- Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows
- Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex (keep “sleep stealers” out of the bedroom – avoid watching TV, using a computer or reading in bed)
- Finish eating at least 2-3 hours before your regular bedtime
- Exercise regularly.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol products close to bedtime and give up smoking