Sleep. We cannot promote sleep enough. You think diet is #1 to achieve your FITness results?? I say Sleep is more important.
An athlete (that is YOU reading this) in training must get more than 7 hours of sleep per night at a minimum, but probably more important is not to get less than six a night for too long a period of time. Yes, there are times when circumstances prevent us from cuddling with our pillows as long as we’d like, but chronic sleep deprivation can have some nasty consequences. Here are a few:
1. Metabolism and weight can be negatively affected by chronic sleep deprivation. In layman’s terms: not enough sleep can make you FAT. 2. Your cardiovascular health can be profoundly impacted by lack of sleep. Studies have shown links between severe sleep disorders and increased stress hormone levels, hypertension, and even irregular heartbeat. 3. Your immune system needs sleep to function at its highest level. Sleep deprivation alters your immune function, including the activity levels of white blood cells.
“So How Can I Increase Sleep??”
Here are some good rules to follow:
- Unplug for at least 30 minutes before bed. This means no computers, iphones, ipods, blackberries, or video games. Read a book, have a relaxing conversation, stretch, or do anything else calming and relaxing.
- Try not to eat too much before bedtime. You don’t want to go to bed full and you don’t want to go to bed hungry. Both can have negative effects on sleep
- Go to bed and get up at the same time every day if possible. This is the way our bodies are programmed to work, and when we deviate from this it can have negative effects.
- Sleep in a dark and quiet environment. (i.e. you need black out curtains)
- Try to not get into your bed before you are ready to sleep. So if you are reading before bed, do it in another room, in a chair, or sit on the floor.
- Go to the bathroom before you go to bed – common sense!
A lot of focus on how we can’t actually fall asleep. I encourage you to focus on what you can control (the following rules above) vs. what you can’t control in the moment (actually falling asleep).
The best advice I can give you about getting enough sleep is… Don’t focus on the amount of sleep you need as a focus. Instead, focus on a bottom line, no questions asked, zero tolerance bed time. If you must get up a 5am to get to your morning workout, I would have a 8:30p bed time (30 min wynd down time; 8 hours of sleep).
Which ‘rule’ do you lack in your life? How will you change it? Commit to it in the comments.
Speaking of sleep don’t forget to turn your clocks forward for “Daylight Savings” this Saturday night!