Let's Talk About Sleep
Sleep is one of the most important aspects of our wellbeing. It has the ability to impact so many elements of our health, including — you guessed it — fitness!
In fact, we all spend around a third of our lives asleep, so it’s an important thing to get right.
So, how do you get a good night’s sleep? And why should you prioritise it every single day? We have the answers.
How to sleep well
The importance of getting a good night’s sleep is indisputable.
When you get a good night’s sleep, you’re energised and able to tackle anything that comes your way. In contrast, when you have a poor night’s sleep, you feel constantly deflated and everything seems impossible.
Getting a good night’s sleep can be easy for some and difficult for others. It can also be influenced by a number of factors that are out of your control.
The good news is there are some things you can control to give yourself the best chance of quality sleep. Listen up, so you can rest up.
Limit screen time
In the hour leading up to your bedtime, limit — or better yet, cut out — screens (phones, laptops, computers and iPads).
Yep, this means no Instagram, Facebook or YouTube for at least the last hour you’re awake every day.
Instead, try practising gratitude, meditating, journaling or reading a book.
Caffeine is a stimulant, which means it increases activity in the brain and central nervous system. Let’s be clear: caffeine is exactly what you don’t want as you’re trying to nod off to sleep!
If you can, avoid caffeine at least six hours before you go to bed. Doing this will give you a better chance of falling asleep with ease.
As much as you can, try to be consistent with the time you go to sleep and the time you wake up. Of course, this isn’t always going to be possible (new mums, we’re looking at you!), but where possible, give it your best go.
An extra hour here or there is fine, but more than that and you will confuse your body clock. And remember, falling asleep one hour earlier is better than sleeping in one hour later.
Benefits of quality sleep
Get enough sleep and you’ll be reaping the benefits.
There’s no shortage of benefits that come with quality sleep. Here, we’ve rounded up some of the best.
You’ll have more energy
Who doesn’t want more energy? When you sleep well, your body works to regulate hormone levels, strengthen your immune system, support healthy brain function, restore temperature regulation and maintain your physical health.
These factors all lead to increased energy and stamina!
Your mood will improve
Quality sleep equals better moods, and that alone can be reason enough to ensure you get a good night’s sleep
Research indicates a link between poor quality sleep and low moods. In fact, it can go both ways. Poor sleep can affect your mood, and your mood can affect your efforts to sleep well!
Research into the effects of sleep on your mood has clearly demonstrated that when you sleep well, you’re much more likely to feel happy and optimistic. Compare this to poor sleep, when you are more likely to feel irritable, sad or unmotivated.
Need we say more?
Count on better concentration
Sleep helps to improve how your brain functions. When you get enough sleep, you will be able to think more clearly and concentrate for longer. You’ll also notice that your coordination and athletic performance improve when you sleep well, compared to when you don’t get enough sleep.
Is it as simple as quality sleep equals better concentration and productivity? Yes! And that’s something we can all do with more of.
Expect reduced stress levels
When you’re feeling stressed, your body releases cortisol, which can keep you awake.
On the flip side, a good night’s sleep can relax the systems in your body that are responsible for this stress response.
Need to stress less? Get to bed earlier and get that sleep.
It’s easier to maintain a healthy weight
This is a big one.
Studies suggest that if you’re not sleeping properly, you are more likely to be overweight. On the other hand, if you get enough quality sleep every night, you’ll find it easier to maintain a healthy weight.
When you don’t get enough sleep, hormone levels of Ghrelin (which increases appetite) and Leptin (which tells us we're full) become imbalanced. The result? You tend to feel more hungry and eat more food than those who are getting enough quality sleep.
Does sleep impact fitness?
Yes, sleep absolutely can impact your health and fitness efforts. Let’s investigate.
How does sleep impact fitness?
If you’re not getting enough quality sleep, your energy levels will be low and you might find it challenging to get through your workout in the first place.
It can be especially true if you’re tackling a HIIT workout, which requires high energy and stamina.
Post-workout, if you’re not getting enough sleep, your muscle recovery efforts can suffer, which can lead to DOMS (more on that later) or a compromised immune system.
Sleep and delayed onset muscle soreness
You’re probably familiar with delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) — this can occur when you workout harder than usual, or complete a strenuous or unfamiliar exercise.
Usually, DOMS comes about 24–48 hours after your workout and can leave you feeling incredibly sore and stiff, which is caused by micro-tears in your muscles.
Here’s the thing: DOMS can be significantly worse if you don’t get enough sleep, and it can delay the ability to overcome DOMS.
If you find yourself suffering from DOMS, prioritise sleep.
Quality sleep is non-negotiable
It’s safe to say that quality sleep is worth every minute you can get.
From increased energy to tackle your workouts to better concentration and productivity, sleep is something you can’t afford to sacrifice!
How do you ensure you get a good night’s sleep? Comment any tips or tricks below!
* Results may vary. Strict adherence to the nutrition and exercise guide are required for best results.