I personally STRUGGLE with getting enough sleep. My brain won’t shut down and I tend to toss and turn. I have to Actively FOCUS on getting a good nights rest. Do you know that your body needs an average of 7-8 hours of sleep per night to properly function? Sounds like a lot but it is 100% TRUE! Especially if you are following a fitness program or routine.
The fact is your body can only heal, repair, and grow during deep sleep. Sleep is ESSENTIAL to life just like eating and breathing. So is exercise, but that is a whole other blog post. lol.
You can be doing the right things, perfectly portioning out your food, making healthy choices, doing hardcore lifting and cardio that pushes your body to its limits, but all that effort may not produce the results your body is craving without enough recovery.
So…WHY do we need so much sleep? Let me get technical for a moment. Sleep “restores” what our bodies lose while we’re awake. Many of the major restorative functions in the body, like muscle growth, tissue repair, protein synthesis, and the release of growth hormones, occur mostly, or only during sleep. You will find that your body functions so much better when you are well rested. I also use the Beachbody Performance Line to help me with muscle recovery both after my workout and before bed. It is called Recharge and Recover.
Check out this Image from the Huffington post that shows just how different ONE GOOD night of rest will change even just your physical appearance in your skin, eyes, coloration and more. That’s just visible of the outside so imagine what it is doing for your body inside!
Warning signs that you’re sleep-deprived. Do you have a sneaking suspicion you might not be getting the sleep you need? You’re not alone. Did you know that an estimated 50 to 70 million people in the U.S. don’t get adequate sleep every night. For me I average about 4-5 hours per night. EEEKKKK…I know. I need to get better about going to bed earlier and turning OFF the TV and sounds that actually do not allow my body to get that quality REM sleep that I need. I use my FitBit to track the amount of sleep I am getting. It tracks my awake and restless periods as well as my REM sleep times.
Here are a few classic signs:
- Hitting the snooze button consistently on your alarm clock
- Yawning uncontrollably and at inappropriate times (e.g., church, work meetings, lunch with friends, parent-teacher conferences)
- Feeling sluggish in the afternoon. I call it the 3 pm CRASH
- Getting drowsy while driving
- Having heavy eyelids and watery eyes, puffy eyes, dark circles, dry dull skin
- Experiencing memory lapses
- Experiencing irritability and low energy
- Feeling excessive hungriness or a complete lack of appetite
- Twitching Muscles and Eyelids
Tips for catching quality z’s. So, now that you know how important sleep is, Lets try to work out catching some more Zzz’s. Here are some tips to help you get quality sleep.
- Create a calming, quiet, comfortable sleep environment. Comfy pillows and Blankets. Cool colors in the Bedroom. Black out shades to keep it dark. Calming Linen Spray on the sheets.
- From 4 to 6 hours before bedtime, avoid caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and other chemicals that interfere with sleep.
- Turn OFF all Technology an hour before Bedtime and read a book, talk to your spouse, BRAIN DUMP (meaning write down everything that is on your mind in no particular organized manner), Journal, Pray, look at a magazine. Just relax and unwind.
- Drink a cup of warm water or Tea with magnesium, valerian root, chamomile, lavender or a natural melatonin in it to help relax your muscles and help you fall asleep. I like Nighty-Night by Traditional Medicinals.
- Keep a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed at the same time every night. And wake up at the same time every morning. If you’re getting enough sleep, you’ll wake up automatically without an alarm clock.
- Get regular exercise. 20 – 30 minutes a day is all you need. Try to get it done before 7 pm and not too close to bed time. Physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and make your sleep more restful.
- Have a relaxing bedtime routine that eases the transition between being awake and sleeping. I like to use a LUSH Bath bomb or Essential Oils (I like Stress Away) to help calm my muscles and my mind.
- Sleep primarily at night. Short naps are great for recharging and catching up on missed sleep, but too many naps, and naps that are too long, can interfere with your regular schedule. Limit naps to 15-20 minutes in the afternoon before 4 pm.
Make the most of your workouts. Be honest with yourself. If you’re doing the work and the healthy eating plan and you’re still not seeing great results, it could be lack of sleep that’s holding back your progress. Remember, your body is an incredible machine. Give it a chance to recover and build for the jump-start you’ve been looking for.