So now I turn my focus to…..The importance of sleep to complement a healthy lifestyle.

Get Your Sleep!

Sleep….. It’s always one of those things I don’t realise affects me so strongly until I don’t have enough of it or it is disrupted. Lately I’ve been able to sleep more and most importantly, I’m sleeping solid throughout the night. I’ve been able to have a more consistent schedule that has allowed me to go to bed and rise at the same time during the week.

Sleep has been a constant challenge for me throughout my life, whether battling with insomnia or my work, being up early and late to bed, I’ve witnessed first hand the negative side effects of sleep deprivation.

We all want to be healthy. We work hard in the gym and we pay attention to our food but how often do we take our our sleep for granted?? Lets take a look at sleep from an overall health perspective….

Inflammation
Research indicates that people who get less sleep…six or fewer hours a night, have higher blood levels of inflammatory proteins than those who get more. Inflammation is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, and premature ageing. If we think about it even further, we ask a lot of our bodies in the gym, causing inflammation through movement. If we aren’t sleeping, we aren’t recovering.

Losing Weight
Many researchers found that dieters who were well rested lost more fat, than those who were sleep deprived. Also the deprived lost more muscle mass. (They shed similar amounts of total weight regardless of sleep.)

Dieters in the study also felt hungrier when they had lack of sleep. Sleep and metabolism are controlled by the same parts of the brain, when you are sleepy, certain hormones go up in your blood, and those same hormones drive appetite. I’m definitely out of control, regarding my nutrition, when I haven’t slept well. It is very noticeable to me when I am tired……I will eat anything and everything.

Increased Performance
Another study found that sport stars who tried to sleep at least 10 hours a night for seven to eight weeks improved their average sprint time and had less daytime fatigue and more stamina.

Strength/Recovery
Testosterone levels and growth hormone levels elevate during sleep, This is part of the bodies physical repair system. These hormones assist in recovery and strength & fitness gains. These hormones release after being asleep for about 30 minutes. The hormone levels elevate every time you go through a certain phase of your sleep cycle. The longer you sleep, the more cycles you go through, the more of these recovery promoting hormones pumping through your body. Even getting a 30 minute nap is a big bonus because now, instead of getting this hormone advantage one time a day, a nap makes it twice in a day! (I had a nap today!!)

So now that you realise how important it is to prioritise your sleep, let’s review a few things that will help you improve the quality of sleep you are getting.

1. Alcohol  
Even though a nightcap may help you relax and fall asleep faster, it’ll make the second half of your sleep cycle restless and unsatisfying. Alcohol decreases deep sleep and increases arousals from sleep. If you like a glass of wine in the evening, have it at dinner, around 6 p.m….rather than 11 p.m, and drink in moderation, so it’ll wear off by the time you lie down.

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2. Hot Bath
Surprisingly, a hot bath might make it harder for you to drift off. Doing anything that raises your body temperature too close to bedtime can actually hinder you from falling asleep, because your body needs to cool to a certain temperature in order to reach the land of nod.

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3. Technology Free
Put that phone down!!  So when you do unplug, it will be harder to fall asleep. It’s possible that even the vibration of your phone could disturb sleep if you are a person cued to hear or respond to it.

Disconnect an hour before bed, turn your smartphone off, and put any gadgets in an out-of-reach place or in another room so you won’t be tempted to grab it if you get the late-night urge. Also, invest in a real alarm clock (using your phone will only give you another excuse to keep it close) and get ready to wake up feeling so refreshed that you won’t even need to press snooze.

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4. Stretch 
Getting in a  gentle stretch before jump in bed can help put your mind at ease, steady your breath, and reduce muscle tension without revving up your heart. I’ve found it very beneficially to foam roll before bed, taking the  days tension away.

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5. No Caffeine in the evening
We all know caffeine is a stimulus that helps keep us awake, but what about that evening cup… Check the labels on your favourite drinks, if possible, stop drinking them by 2 p.m, so there’s time for their effects to wear off. Naturally, coffee drinks pack a real wallop, so stay away from them after lunch.

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Now go get some sleep!!

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