When it comes to achieving your fitness goals, most people focus on diet and exercise. However, there is one critical aspect that is often overlooked – sleep hygiene.
Sleep is essential for overall health and well-being. It affects not only our physical health but also our mental health, cognitive functions, and performance.
Now I will discuss the importance of sleep hygiene in achieving your fitness goals and some practical tips that you can utilise right away.
Sleep And Weight Loss
Sleep plays so a crucial role in weight loss that lack of sleep can lead to weight gain even when we do everything else right as it affects our hunger hormones.
When we don’t get enough sleep, our body produces more ghrelin, which is a hormone that stimulates appetite, and less leptin, which is a hormone that suppresses appetite. We also might have elevated stress levels and a lower ability to control our emotions throughout the day.
These factors combined together can create a storm that leads to overeating and storing fat more often than not. Most people are unable to resist their hormone signals for too long or make the right decisions when they feel too emotional.
Sleep And Physical Performance
You might have heard the likes of Mohammed Ali, Matthew Fraser and countless other world champions share the most important work in their training regimen.
They all say that the hardest thing is to have great sleep hygiene and go to bed on time and that this is the most important work that most people struggle to do.
Studies have shown that lack of sleep can lead to decreased reaction time, decreased endurance, and decreased cognitive function. And the contrary, getting enough sleep can improve reaction time, increase endurance, and improve cognitive function.
You must understand that gains are made whilst we recover and the most effective & necessary recovery technique is a good night’s sleep.
Sleep And Recovery
It is during sleep that our body repairs and regenerates. Lack of sleep can lead to increased inflammation and slower recovery time. This consequently can lead to under-recovery or overtraining which can lead to injuries and stagnating with your progress.
Many people think that recovery is necessary only in the muscles and if they don’t feel pain it means it’s ok but sleep recovery is necessary mostly for our nervous system.
Our nervous system is responsible for thinking, coordination, strength output, the ability to stay disciplined and any other function of the body that comes to your mind. When it’s exhausted there is not much that we can do but allow it to recover in the fastest and most efficient way possible.
Sleep And Cognitive Functions
Sleep is essential for cognitive functions such as memory, attention, concentration, and learning. Exhaustion will affect all of our skills and even if we try to perform at our best once that won’t be sustainable in the long run.
Eventually, if we are consistently sleep deprived our health and performance in every single area will start declining. It is not 100% confirmed yet but it looks like the cause of Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease is not enough quality sleep over long periods of time.
Numerous studies show the negative impacts of sleep deprivation and if you’d like to educate yourself a bit more I recommend reading the book Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker
Action Steps To Improve Your Sleep Hygiene
Step 1 – WAKING UP:
Set a wake-up time that you can stick to for at least 5-6 days of the week and once per week allow yourself to sleep longer. To gain the positive effects from your wake up you should avoid laying in bed after you hear the alarm. At first, might be hard but this will help reset your circadian rhythm which will help you fall asleep in the evening.
The best way to wake up quickly is to allow sunlight to go through your eyes for about 5-10 minutes every morning.
The only organ recognised to reset the circadian rhythm is a small retina in our eyes that responds the strongest to the sunlight. You don’t have to look directly at the sun but you have to be under the sky and not look through sunglasses or windows.
For the winter times and those who wake up too early, you should focus on waking yourself up quickly through activities, lights in the house and perhaps a slightly cold shower. Do whatever it takes to fully wake up quickly.
P.S. Waking up with loud noises and harsh alarms is a bad idea that will cause more negative stress than positive. Try waking up with a nice sound that feels alright when you hear it in the morning.
The best wake-up is when you wake up on time without alarm or simply with light without any noise.
Step 2 – EVENING ROUTINE:
Around 10:30 PM your brain will start releasing melatonin according to your circadian rhythm that your reset in the morning. The stronger your circadian rhythm is the stronger this melatonin release will be but it won’t last for long.
Contrary to popular belief melatonin doesn’t make you sleep but helps you relax so you can fall asleep eventually. It is a powerful hormone but if you miss the window you won’t release it again and falling asleep will be much harder after that.
To maximise your chances of falling asleep you have to explore wind-down techniques that help you calm down your mind if needed. Some of the techniques known to us are listening to relaxation music, journaling, meditation, hot baths etc. You need to learn through practice to use these techniques when you need them.
One thing that everyone should do is to stop all devices with displays and all lights from the ceiling. Stop all tech and lights 30-60 minutes before you go to bed and avoid looking at your phone until the next day. If you have to use your phone, make sure the screen light is as low as you can tolerate and make it quick.
To make your way into the dark is best to use red lights or any lights that are coming from below the eye level and do not illuminate directly your eyes.
Step 3 – NOISE & TEMPERATURE:
To assure good quality sleep you should take the necessary steps to limit the noise in your bedroom and in extreme cases earplugs can be very helpful.
Also, the temperature around your body should not be too high. One of the wake-up mechanisms of the body is to increase body temperature and if you feel too warm because of the room temperature or the duvet is very important that you deal with this issue.
Sometimes you feel warm in waves whilst in bed and it’s hard to make any changes to the bed sheets or the room temperature, and in that case, you can reduce your core body temperature by uncovering the palms of your hands and the bottom of your feet.
You will never reach your full potential and the potential of the efforts that you already put in if you don’t optimise your sleep.
Sleep is the foundation of any weight loss, muscle growth, strength increase, endurance increase, or any other training program.
I can give you £50 off of one of the best sleep-tracking devices that will not only track your sleep but will also many other health factors like heart rate, heart rate variability etc. and will teach you how to optimise your sleep step-by-step.
Use this link for £50 discount on Oura Ring
If you need more help with anything related to your fitness you can book one free fitness strategy call with me and I highly recommend you do that.
Have a great day and I’m looking forward to speaking with you!