Getting a good night’s sleep is a topic that I have covered more than once and for good reason.
Any weekly readers will know that I harp on a bit about the importance of sleep in some of my articles and this week I decided to refresh your memory. For any new readers to the column this will give you a greater insight into the importance of getting plenty of sleep.
I have found through my own experience, and from other people’s stories, that sleep deprivation is one of the biggest factors why people are not reaching their health and fitness goals as well as their life goals.
You may decide to watch the next episode of a boxset rather than going to bed, or set a time to go to bed but never stick to it as you are easily distracted by others things. If this sounds like you then I’m going to give you a few tips that may help you get the right amount of sleep.
Firstly, let us look at what happens in our sleep.
There are three different stages of sleep:
• Stage 1 – 15-20 minutes of restorative sleep, this is also a perfect amount of time to take that power nap and won’t leave you waking up groggy.
• Stage 2 – slow wave sleep, the deepest stage of sleep.
• Stage 3, or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, the lightest sleep and the stage in which we dream.
It’s during the second stage of sleep that researchers have found we do the most rebuilding to our bodies. This is why sleep is so important when trying to reach your fitness goal, as it gives the body time to repair and restore itself from the damage of exercise and everyday living.
Also, there is mounting evidence that insufficient or poor quality sleep doesn’t just affect short term energy loss, it is also associated with a host of serious health problems including weight gain, insulin resistance, type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Surveys have shown that as little as six days with sleep duration restricted to four hours per night can alter the hormone profiles of healthy young people so dramatically that they effectively replicate those typically found in elderly or depressed individuals. In other words get your sleep in or you will start to feel as old as you will look!
If you are thinking; ‘I know it’s important to sleep but I just can’t get turned over at night’, then get yourself into a healthy night time routine that suits you.
• Go to bed at the same time every night – set a time and stick to it, this will help your body to know when to go to sleep and when to wake up. Aim to get seven-eight hours each night.
• Avoid watching the clock at night – if you can’t sleep don’t keep checking the time.
• Remove the TV/computer from the bedroom. Even having the red standby light on will affect your sleep at night.
• Playing soft music before bedtime can help some people induce sleep. Replace the TV with music, download Spotify on your mobile and listen to any type of music and playlist that will help you have a better sleep.
• Set time aside to relax in another room before bedtime. Meditate, shut your eyes, lay on the floor or read a book. Let your body unwind before you hit the bed.
• Don’t be afraid to snack at night. If you are hungry make sure you have a healthy protein based snack at night. Don’t eat anything that is full of sugar or energy, you want to let the body switch off.
• Take care of the room temperature, not too hot or too cold – regulate what is right for you. You don’t want to be kicking the bed sheets on and off all night.
• Ensure you are warm and comfortable in bed. Invest in a good bed and mattress, it could cost you the price of your health if you don’t.
• Regularly change your bed-sheets. There’s nothing better than getting into a fresh made bed.
• Ensure the curtains block out light and open them in the morning. Blackout curtains are great for this, make sure your room has no light and pitch dark for a better night’s sleep.
• Establish good sleeping habits if you share your bed. Going to bed at the same time as your partner will ensure you don’t disturb one another and even having a routine together will help you keep each other accountable.
• Don’t drink caffeine after 6pm. This is a big one for me. I replace my green tea after dinner or late at night with a night time relaxing tea which can be bought in any supermarket.
• When you wake up, get up. This is something I try to work on and you do notice the difference once you get up straight away, it leads to a more productive morning and day.
• Never drink alcohol to induce sleep. We all say it, you never sleep right when you have drink in you!
I hope these tips help, I would advise that you take one or two at a time and give them a go.
Don’t try to implement the whole lot in one go.
If you are still struggling to sleep at night, then please go and speak to your doctor. Remember your health is your wealth.