So you’ve been consistent with your eating and your workouts for quite some time now, but for some reason the results you were expecting just aren’t happening. You need answers. What could possibly be happening?!
Well, have you considered your sleep habits?
Everything is dependent on proper sleep quality. From your performance during exercise to clearness in your thinking, all your functions are influenced by your sleep in some way. So it only makes sense that you get enough of it, as well as the best possible quality.
Unfortunately, more and more people are dropping below the minimum hours of sleep required to keep health problems in check and suffering from poorer sleep quality due to lifestyle factors that they would not have expected to play a role.
How do you KNOW that your sleep habits aren’t working for you?
1. You can’t think clearly: our experiences and information accumulated throughout the day gets integrated into our memory while we sleep. Disrupting this process can lead to forgetfulness, confusion and reduced concentration.
2. Your mood is low: sleeping refreshes neurotransmitters and regulates hormone production. Less of it leads to increased stress, unhappiness and decreased regulation of emotions.
3. Your immune system seems weak: not enough sleep can decrease immune cell count and increase inflammation, which may lead to you getting sick more often and having an increased risk of inflammation-related illnesses.
4. You’re not losing weight: this one is a double whammy because not only is poor sleep linked to excess body fat, but excess body fat can reduce sleep quality. Talk about a vicious cycle!
5. You’re struggling through your workouts: as mentioned before, sleep allows your body to refresh neurotransmitters, but it also aids in flushing our energy-draining metabolites to help with nervous system activity, reaction time and endurance capacity.
Now, how do you ACHIEVE a good night’s sleep?
1. Wake up at YOUR appropriate time: when woken from a light sleep stage, you feel way better and more alert. Look into purchasing a device or downloading an app that senses sleep cycles and awakens you at an optimal, personalized time
2. Start moving: when it’s time to wake up, don’t think, just sit up, put your feet on the floor and start moving. It seems to help speed up the waking process.
3. Mind your caffeine and alcohol intake: try to avoid having daily caffeine and alcohol as these can interfere with proper deep sleep. Save them for treats or special occasions only.
4. “Empty your mind”: this Bruce Lee quote rings true in more ways than one, and it DEFINITELY applies to sleep. Sometimes we’re just so frazzled with thoughts in our head that it can make it hard to fall asleep. There are many tools you can use to help this, such as meditation, quiet reading or you can try this: grab a pen and paper and get whatever thoughts you have floating in your head on that paper. This is quite therapeutic and can help you achieve genuine relaxation.
5. Get at least the minimum hours of sleep (7 hours): sleep should be made a priority, but it can be tough to see its benefits compared to the immediate urge to scroll through Instagram or watch one last Youtube video. Invest in your future and plan for proper sleep. Most people NEED 7-9 hours a night. If you’re way under this now, that’s okay. Just know that you’ll have to work your way up slowly. Try adding half an hour of sleep at a time and you’ll feel the difference.
Now you’ve got the why, what and how about getting a good night’s sleep. None of this is useful though, unless you put it to practice. So take even just ONE of these strategies and try it out. Your body and mind will thank you for it 😉
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