“To get fit and lose weight, you have to exercise hard everyday, right? More is better, and exercising more often will get me to my goal faster.”
This is a common belief, but more is not always better.
There is no doubt that exercise is important, but its a small part of a bigger picture. In today’s busy and stressful world, most people don’t have the time or interest to build a life that revolves around working out 24-7 just to look and feel good.
More important than that, you don’t have to!
The good news is that you can get better results without spending more time in the gym or adding more workouts to your busy schedule. All you need to do is give a little TLC to something you’re already doing!
The Importance of Sleep
Sleep gives the body the opportunity to recover from exercise and grow. Your hormones, memory, concentration, and appetite are all affected by both the quality and quantity of your sleep.
While it is common to think “sleep is for the weak” and down another coffee to keep you going, you may want to reconsider this approach.
Sleep deprivation, a condition defined as not having enough quality sleep, is so widespread that it is considered a public health issue. Side effects of sleep deprivation include fatigue, adverse effects on brain and cognitive function, impaired immune system, increased stress hormone levels, increased risk of type II diabetes, and problems with attention and working memory.
In addition to potential health risks, all of the above can negatively impact your performance in the gym, ability to recover from training, and nutrition habits. If you want better results from training, don’t take sleep for granted!
What can you do to improve your sleep quality?
- Aim for the recommended 7-9 hours every night.
- Take naps if needed. Napping is a great way to stay focused, energized and sharp throughout the day. Make your naps 30 minutes or less to maximize benefits and avoid feeling sluggish after waking. If you have trouble sleeping through the night or find it hard to get 7-9 hours of sleep at night, napping is the solution!
- Keep the room cool and avoid extreme temperatures.
- Sleep in a dark room. Use a sleep mask or black out curtains to limit the amount of light.
- Limit use of electronic devices and social media before bed. Not only are interior and external lights the culprits, but also light from electronic devices (phones, tablets, TV, etc.). A common recommendation is to stop the use of electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime
Elite athletes, top companies and some of the most brilliant minds in history all recognized the health and performance benefits of quality sleep. Let’s take a page from their playbook!
Dhand, Rajiv, and Harjyot Sohal. “Good Sleep, Bad Sleep! The Role of Daytime Naps in Healthy Adults.” Current Opinion in Internal Medicine 6.1 (2007): 91-94. Web.
“SSE #113: Sleep and the Elite Athlete.” Gatorade Sports Science Institute. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 July 2016.
“How Many Hours of Sleep Should I Get | Sleep.org.” SleepOrg. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 July 2016.