Looking to get back into shape? Not seeing results from your workout? Get your sleep in order first!
It is a common misconception that we grow stronger while we are exercising. But whether lifting weights in the gym or logging miles on a bike or by foot, the fitness gains your body makes actually happen while you are sleeping. Most people don't realize that we actually break down our bodies when we workout and sleep provides us the much needed opportunity to recover from the physical stress of training. This idea is referred to as the ‘overload principle,' meaning that the body must be exposed to a greater amount of load than it is normally used to in order to increase fitness.
Putting in time at the gym isn’t enough. No amount of training will help you see the results you are looking for unless you allow yourself adequate time to recover. This is why sleep is so important, even though it is the most overlooked aspect of our health.
If you're just starting out on your journey into health & fitness, take an honest look at your sleep pattern, because getting the proper amount/quality of sleep is paramount to getting your whole body to function at its best. Getting your sleep in order should be your first priority when you’re looking to improve your health and athletic performance.
Because when your body isn't properly rested, everything in life is more difficult.
Here are a few tips to help you get better sleep:
- Make sleep a priority - Work out a schedule and stick to it. Aim for at least 7 hours of sleep and shoot to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day (including weekends).
- Get more sunlight - Exposure to sunlight, especially early in the morning, will help dial in your body’s hormones and regulate Circadian rhythm.
- Reduce screen time before bed - This is often hard to avoid since we use our cell phones for everything these days, but make it a point to set the “do not disturb setting” on your phone and set it down for the night. Instagram can wait until tomorrow.
- Curb the caffeine - It’s no surprise that consuming caffeine later in the day can affect your sleep. Be mindful of your coffee/tea drinking and set an afternoon curfew to adhere to.
- Exercise regularly - Set aside a time each day to workout. Training based on functional movements will optimize your hormones for a better nights sleep.
- Limited alcohol - Even though drinking alcohol may make you feel drowsy and fall asleep faster, excessive consumption can disrupt your REM sleep, preventing your body from falling into that deeper level of sleep it needs for regeneration.
- Create a comfortable environment - Make your bedroom a sanctuary of relaxation. Invest in a comfortable mattress, pillows and sheets. Also, reserve the bed for bedtime activities only (sleep & sexy time).
- Start a nightly ritual - Practice a bedtime ritual each night that tells your body it’s time to wind down. Take a hot shower or bath, read a book, write in a journal, or meditate to prepare your body for sleep.
Start by incorporating each of these tips one at a time into your sleep routine, and you’ll be sleeping better in no time!
For more information about sleep, check out Sleep Smarter: 21 Tips To Sleep Your Way To a Better Body, Better Health and Bigger Success by Shawn Stevenson. In this book, Shawn digs into the science behind these principles in addition to offering more strategies to improving your life through sleep. I also suggest checking out his podcast The Model Health Show that I listen to regularly, which covers all things fitness & health.
Looking for help? Contact me to set up a free consultation!