Looking for a better night sleep?
Think about it, after seven or eight hours of a good night’s rest, just how amazing do you feel.
Sleep might also be the missing piece from your fitness program.
Did you know sleep can actually help you build muscle, torch fat, and stay healthy?
According to sleephealth.org, sleep deprivation is a “national epidemic,” affecting 25% of adults. You might well be one of them.
Some might pride themselves on how little sleep they get, believing that they can make it through a busy day on caffeine alone.
I promise, you will not last!
Lack of Sleep is Damaging
Let’s just say you can’t “hack” sleep.
Failing to get the requisite 7-8 hours is associated with all kinds of metabolic, cardiovascular, and psychological problems, including:
- Insulin resistance: The inability of your cells to respond to the hormone insulin and therefore inhibit the uptake and utilization of blood sugar for energy.
- Appetite dysregulation: An abnormality in the metabolic, physiological, or psychological processes that can lead to hunger pains, that tempting sweet tooth, inability to focus and concentrate, lousy judgment, and poor impulse control.
Lack of Sleep Hinders Your Fitness Goals
Poor sleep interferes with your fitness goals by interfering with the secretion of HGH (human growth hormone), testosterone production, and protein synthesis, which aid in muscle and tissue repair, fat and sugar metabolism, and body composition.
People who sleep poorly are also more likely to experience anxiety, anger, fatigue, and lack of vigor than those who don’t; they also get sick more often.
In short, regular, nourishing sleep is essential to building muscle, burning fat, and learning new skills.
Tips for a Rest Filled Night
- Soak Up That Sunshine:
Over hundreds of thousands of years, humans evolved to sleep when it’s dark and move around when it’s light.
That hasn’t changed in the blink-of-an-evolutionary-eye that’s elapsed since the invention of indoor lighting.
So, when we expose our eyes to artificial light, especially after sundown, our internal clocks become confused, throwing off the wake-sleep cycle that’s been with us since our hunting-and-gathering days.
One easy solution: take an early morning walk.
Exposing your eyeballs to those natural rays sends your brain a “time to get up” signal and presses the “start” button on your internal clock.
Later in the day, when it’s time to wind down, your brain will start to send you signals that it’s time to hit the sheets.
No need for a long walk, though you can certainly combine your morning light-exposure with an outdoor workout if you’re so inclined.
Ten to twenty minutes should do it, and even five minutes can help.
- Reduce Your Blue Light Exposure:
In an ideal world, no one would look at a screen device past about 6pm.
The constant scrolling, the endless news feeds, the texts and emails can send your stress hormones through the roof.
Compounding the problem is the fact that screens emit blue light, a wavelength that signals your brain that it’s time to get up-and-at-’em when you’re trying to wind down.
We know you’re unlikely to curb nighttime Netflixing, so when you’re taking in video-entertainment in the evening, try a blue light filter.
Most laptops and phones have a setting for this (check your System Preferences for a “Night Shift” feature).
Failing that, pick up a pair of blue-light glasses, which have been shown to increase the secretion of sleep-inducing melatonin by nearly 60%.
Try sticking to a strict daily limit or reduce your access to certain hours during the day.
Your productivity will jump, allowing you to finish the day’s tasks more efficiently — and get more shut-eye as a result.
- Make a Sleep Cave:
The room where you sleep should be cool, quiet, and pitch-black. Even slivers of light bleeding in through parted curtains can disrupt sleep.
Can’t spring for blackout blinds just yet? A sleep mask can work just as well.
- Stick to a Nighttime Ritual:
We all have our morning routine (Up at 6! 7am workout! Smoothie at 8 and off to work!). But it’s what you do the night before that sets it all up.
If your nighttime routine doesn’t set you up for success, there’s no way you’ll own the morning.
Nighttime should be all about disconnecting from the worries of the day and winding down. When you’re stressed, your mind races at night, making drifting off harder.
Strategies to Make Getting to Sleeping Easier:
- If you’re the stressed-out type, write down your to-do list for the following day in the early evening, before you unplug
- Read a book (like a real paper book, not on a device)
- Practice some deep breathing exercises
- Do some foam rolling or light stretching
- Take a bubble bath
You’ll manage your cortisol and set your nervous system up for a restful, parasympathetic state, laying the groundwork for a deep and blissful night of Z’s.
And who wouldn’t love that?