Importance of Sleep
As much as we may try with medical and technological advances, we are not robots. We need sleep. It’s scientifically proven that people who don’t get adequate sleep are more prone to all sorts of issues from depression to cancer. Studies have proven that most adults need close to 8 hours of sleep per night, but the average American only gets 6.8 hours. Even if you think you’ve adjusted to less sleep, you’re still not operating at your full mental capacity. And don’t think sleeping 12 hours on the weekend will balance it out… you can’t catch up on sleep.
I don’t think I really need to argue that we need sleep. However, it’s taken me years to realize I need to prioritize sleep. Thankfully, I married a man who’s VERY serious about getting 8 hours. I’ve literally had the lights turned off on me with no warning multiple times because it’s bed time. As annoying as that can be, it really gave me a good picture of what it’s like to prioritize sleep. Just like working out, there will always be obstacles and other things you feel you should be doing. However, you have to make the conscious decision to shut everything off and just go to sleep.
Sleep & Fitness
Along with all of the other health benefits, getting enough sleep is crucial to seeing progress at the gym. First off, if you’re deprived of sleep, you won’t be able to perform as well at the gym… which means you’re not getting all the potential benefits of your workout. Getting more sleep could actually result in improved athletic performance. Basically, if you want to be a beast at the gym, you better be getting a solid amount of sleep at night.
Additionally, if you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re probably eating like crap. It’s actually pretty smart of your body if you think about it. If you’re deprived of sleep, your body is low on energy. What’s energy? Calories. What has calories? Food. Your body is just trying to give itself an energy boost. The thing is, your body will probably trick you into overcompensating with food. Plus, I don’t know about you, but when I’m tired I’m way more inclined to grab fast food than to cook a healthy meal at home.
The bottom line is studies have proven a good night’s rest can enhance athletic performance and sleep deprivation can directly lead to weight gain.
Tips for A Good Night’s Rest
So, how do start getting a better night’s rest? Here are a few things that have helped me improve my sleep:
- Set a bedtime for yourself so you can make sleep a priority
- Get off all electronics (including that mobile phone) 30 minutes before bed
- Invest in some blackout curtains and something to make white noise (a cheap fan will do the trick!)
- Keep your room at a comfy temperature (studies suggest 65 degrees is the magic number but I like 68)
- Try practicing some gentle yoga or meditation before bed
- Drink a cup of chamomile tea about an hour before bed (so you have time to pee!)
- Stop drinking caffeine 12-14 hours before bed (this is how long it effects can last). Caffeine usually affects people a lot more than they think, so I’d recommend giving this a try even if you think you have a high tolerance.
Give a few (or all) of those things a try and let me know if you start sleeping like a baby!