Every educated exerciser knows they need more, and better quality, sleep. Not only does it impact enormously on our mood and wellness, but good shut-eye is also significant in our fitness.
There are countless benefits of sleep on training. Ever wonder why you crave carbs and sugar when you are tired? Your sleeping body balances out leptin – the hormone that controls your appetite and helps prevent weight gain. Sleep keeps us sharp, alert and less likely to injure ourselves when exercising. It also restores our muscles, regenerating cells and helping us become stronger.
Less sleep can also contribute to anxiety and depression – aim for eight hours of sleep a night to keep your hormones and emotional regulation in check. Clocking in sleep-time is simple when you tweak a few nighttime habits…
Anxiety about tomorrow’s tasks makes it harder to doze off. One way to combat this is to spend five minutes before bed writing a to-do list for the next day. You’ll offload worries from your mind onto paper and fall asleep faster, according to this 2018 study. Be specific – instead of simply writing “pack swimming gear”, list out each item you need. If you write down your fitness regime for the next day, it’s likely that you’ll consolidate it as you sleep, preparing you more effectively for the day ahead.
For those yet to hear the word, technoference is a term coined to describe the day-to-day interruptions caused by tech-led lifestyles. Exposure to blue lights from our smartphones, tablets and computers can be detrimental to our sleep quality, inhibiting the production of the sleep hormone, melatonin, ultimately interfering with our body clock. Basically, to sleep better you shut down your phone before going to bed.
If you want a good night of sleep, you need to prepare for it. How can you do it better if you are not ready for it? Make sure your bedroom is a personal sanctuary: it should be quiet, calm, clean and enjoyable before you snuggle up. Minimize artificial lights and get the temperature right to make sure you’re not distracted when you lie in bed. Then, relax and clear your mind. Massages, hot baths, a good book, deep breathing, meditation and visualization are all brilliant techniques – find what works for you.
You’ll sleep more soundly if you avoid workouts before bed. If you’re exercising late, your body temperature can rise and you’ll pump out adrenaline – not ideal contributors to falling asleep. The best time to exercise is around five hours before bedtime, working in harmony with your body’s circadian rhythms and temperature changes.
Fitness is so much more than movement. Tapping into your body-mind connection is paramount to productivity in all areas of life. Never underestimate the power of a resting night – building a stronger, healthier body actually starts in bed. Carve out quality time under the covers and you’ll achieve your goals at the gym.