When we embark on a health and fitness journey, we naturally think about exercising more and eating healthily, but sleep is just as important, if not more so. It is absolutely essential to our health and survival!
You could eat like absolute crap and never go to the gym and you would still survive, but cut out sleep and you wouldn’t last a couple of weeks.
The main reason for lack of sleep is rarely long work hours, family commitments or physiological issues. Rather, most people lose sleep because they choose to. Watching TV, browsing the internet, going out with friends; this voluntary bedtime delay is fun at the time, but what is the long-term impact on our health?
Studies show that people who sleep less than seven hours each night are significantly more likely to be obese. And, staying awake beyond midnight also increases the likelihood of obesity.
Not only does more time spent awake mean more time to eat, lack of sleep disrupts hormonal balance, ramping up the stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) and leaving the appetite regulating hormones (leptin and ghrelin) way out of whack.
As if that isn’t enough, getting less than seven and a half hours of sleep each night also means that you’re at greater risk of heart attack, stroke and sudden cardiac death than your buddies who get plenty of ZZZZZs. Plus, with the weight gain that could come with minimal sleep, you might see insulin resistance, glucose intolerance and type 2 diabetes.
But, even if you meet the basic requirement for sleep, are you sleeping optimally? And if not, what does poor sleep quality do to your body composition and eating habits? Are disrupted nights leaving you fatigued and less able to make healthy food choices during the day?
If any of this sounds familiar, we have a few ideas that can help! A good night’s sleep starts when we wake up and, just as we would create a plan for our exercise and nutrition, we can create a plan for our sleep and track our progress.
Try a few of these tips and see how your sleep improves.
- Expose yourself to natural daylight as soon as you can after waking.
- Hold off on caffeine for the first 90 mins, no caffeine after 12pm.
- Exercise early in the day.
- No food three hours before bed.
- No liquids two hours before bed, minimise alcohol.
- No screens one hour before bed.
- Seven to nine hours per night and lights out by 10pm, even at weekends.
- Keep your bedroom a cool 16 to 20 degrees.
- Seek darkness and silence (eye mask and ear plugs FTW!)
- Invest in a good mattress and bedding.
If you feel you need help establishing some healthy habits and routines, book a Free No-Sweat Intro with us by clicking on the button below.