You exercise and eat healthy, BUT are you recovering well??
Following the best diet and training regime 100% still won’t compensate for lack of sleep.
For optimal health, adults should be getting 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep every night. Research indicates that active adults require more sleep, in the 8 to 10 hour range per night.
For physically active people, the main functions for sleep are: recovery, mental alertness, and muscle growth.
One of the stages of sleep is REM (Rapid Eye Movement). Deep REM occurs after your body goes through 4 stages of Non-REM sleep. During deep REM your body is able to: restore tissue/organs/bones, create memories for the day, replenish cells, and secrete human growth hormone. If sleep is cut short or interrupted frequently throughout the night, the body doesn’t have time to repair memory, consolidate memory, and release hormones efficiently.
Exercise depletes energy, fluids, and breaks down muscle. Hydration and the right fuel are only part of training and recovery. What you do in the moments during and immediately after training also determines how quickly your bodies rebuild muscle and replenish nutrients.
Some research suggests that sleep deprivation increases levels of stress hormone, cortisol.
Sleep deprivation has also been seen to:
- Decrease production of glycogen and carbohydrates that are stored for energy use during physical activity
- Deceases leptin (hormone that signs that you’re full)
- Increases gherkin (hunger hormone)
- Sleep deprived dieters lose more weight from muscle than fat compared to rested dieters
Here are some tips to improve your sleep:
UNPLUG AT LEAST 30 MINUTES BEFORE
- Television, social media, games and apps stimulates our brain, which keeps us alert
- Most electronics and screens also emit blue light, which our internal body clock associates with daylight
COOL YOUR BEDROOM
- Lower temperatures signal the brain for sleeping.
- Studies say the ideal bedroom temperature for sleeping is between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit (18.3 and 22.2 degrees Celsius).
RELAX YOUR BODY
- Take a few long, deep breaths and consciously feel your heart rate slow down
- Try Muscle Tension & Relaxation
- Inhale, tense your whole body at once, hold for a few seconds and slowly exhale as your body let’s go of the tension
- Repeat at least 3 times
SLEEP AND WAKE UP AT THE SAME TIME, EVEN ON WEEKENDS
- Healthy sleep habits cannot be Monday to Friday. Your body can’t tell if it’s a weekday or weekend.
- For consistent, high-quality sleep you must go to bed and wake up at the same time every single day. Most people who sleep in on the weekends are just sleep deprived, and we don’t want that for you.
CONSIDER SLEEP CYCLES WHEN SETTING YOUR ALARM
- Your body follows a natural 3-stage cycle of sleep lasting approximately 90 minutes (varies between 70 and 120 minutes)
- If you wake up mid-cycle, you are more likely to be groggy in the morning
- Use this 90 minute cycle to calculate when the best time to wake up is
- If you plan to fall asleep at 11PM, you’ll likely wake up more alert at 6:30AM, 8AM, etc.
MAKE IT A ROUTINE
- Your sleep routine should start 15 – 60 minutes before bed, depending on your lifestyle (evening exercise, children, partners, etc.). The overall goal is to make your routine relaxing and quiet to prepare your brain and body for sleep.
- If the following are already a staple in your evening routine, consider making minor adjustments to optimize their effects for sleep.
- Having a hot bath helps promote relaxation, but it also increases your internal body temperature which can make falling asleep difficult.
- Allowing your body 1-2 hours to return to a cooler temperature after a hot bath will make falling asleep easier.
- It has been proven time and time again that regular exercise can naturally improve your sleep quality.However, just like hot baths, exercising increases your internal body temperature.
- Make sure your moderate- to high-intensity workout is completed at least 2 hours before bed to allow your body to return to a cooler temperature.
- Doing light stretches or low-intensity yoga right before bed can promote relaxation and make it easier to fall asleep.
- Reading is a common way to wind down after a stressful day. Many people will curl up with a book or magazine in bed before falling asleep.
- You want your brain to associate your bed strictly with sleep and intimacy with your partner.
- If you already read in bed, transition your habit outside the bedroom to start and once you begin to feel sleeping, crawl into bed and continue.
- Remember to avoid reading from screens and electronics that emit blue light.
RELAX YOUR MIND
- Download a guided meditation audio track
- If meditation isn’t for you, take a moment to reflect on your day and address what’s been stressing you out or all the things you have to do tomorrow.
- Will worrying about these issues tonight affect the outcome? Likely not.
- Accept how things are and be present in the moment.
- Writing these worries down can also help.
- Slowly count backwards from 100
DON’T STAY IN BED IF YOU CAN’T SLEEP
- Tossing and turning while watching the clock tick into the night can increase stress hormones in the brain, making you more alert.
- If you don’t fall asleep within 30 minutes, get up and do light housework or stretches in dim lighting.
- Remember to avoid screens and electronics that emit blue light.
FOOD & DRINKS
Things that can keep you awake if consumed too close (>4 hours) before bed:
- Large/heavy meals
- Tea, including green tea
- Coffee (even decaf)
- Cola & sodas
- Spicy foods
- Processed carbohydrates (white bread/pasta)
- High sugar/high fat snacks
- Chocolate (dark chocolate has high caffeine levels)
Getting the proper amount of sleep is necessary to face the world with your best foot forward. Sleep will help you on the road to good fitness, good eating, and good health. Sleep has a profound effect on muscle growth and physical well being. If you don’t get adequate sleep, your recovery will take a backward step, so get to sleep if you want to grow.
Wishing you an energetic day and a great night’s sleep!