The Importance of Sleep
Generally when you think of health and fitness, sleep doesn’t usually rank as one of the main priorities. Sleep though can have a huge impact on your health as it plays a vital role in maintaining and protecting your mental health, physical health and overall quality of life.
Having quality and adequate sleep also improves your ability to make decisions and control your appetite, emotions and moods. It will also affect your energy levels throughout the day which can lead to inactivity.
When we don’t get enough sleep it can increase the risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke and obesity.
Benefits of Sleep
Sleep changes your appetite - Sleep helps the body maintain and control the hormones that make you feel hungry and full. Unfortunately when we have a lack of sleep our body struggles to control these hormones effectively which can lead to overeating during the day.
Sleep supports your immune system - The role of your immune system is to defend the body from foreign or harmful substances, fighting illnesses and infections. Our immune system relies heavily on quality sleep to function properly and protect our bodies from these substances.
Sleep keeps your sugar levels in check - Sleep impacts the body’s hormone that regulates your blood glucose levels (insulin). Without this you may be at a higher risk of diabetes.
Sleep helps recovery and growth - When you’re in a deep sleep your body releases your growth hormone. This hormone is important to increase muscle mass and repair cells and tissues in the body.
It’s important to have enough sleep but it’s the quality of your sleep that will really make the difference. As adults we should aim to have between 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. You might already be sleeping like a baby but if you would like to improve your sleep at night, here are a few ways to help.
Improving your sleep
Create a sleep routine - Your sleep routine should be a relaxing process that you follow each night which helps you wind down and gets your ready for sleep. My tips would be to first figure out when you need to be asleep and set a time, aiming for at least 7-9 hours. Then avoid screens (tv, tablets, mobiles) at least an hour before and choose something relaxing to do that will help you wind down. When you create a routine you follow each night your body will be better prepared for sleep.
Improve your room for sleeping - It’s important that you set the mood in your room and remove anything that may interrupt your body from having a good night’s sleep. Some things to consider would be to remove any light/noises/distractions from your room, making your room as dark as possible.
Stay away from caffeine and even alcohol at least 2-3 hours before bed - Yes believe it or not, alcohol isn’t a sleeping aid. Instead alcohol before bed can impact how much time spent in a deep sleep, the most restorative part of sleep. It also lessons time spent in REM sleep (rapid eye movement) which is an important sleeping phase that gets your body ready to rest and recover.
Exercise regularly - Being active and keeping up regular exercise has shown to improve the quality of your sleep by lowering stress and increasing the need for rest at the end of the day. Exercise can also reduce symptoms of many common sleep disorders and problems.
Yours in fitness,
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