Sleep is VERY important. You hear it all the time, but there is merit to everything you read and listen to about the importance of sleep and how much is affected when you don’t get enough shuteye.
And believe it or not, your weight loss efforts and that bikini body you are working on are affected too!
Here’s what you need to know:
1) How to get a better sleep:
Have a nighttime routine – Develop a nighttime routine that you follow every night that is always the same. Maybe you drink some tea on the coach, have a shower and brush your teeth, do 10 minutes of meditation and get into bed and read until you fall asleep. Whatever it may entail, find one that works for you to help your body unwind from the day. This routine signals to your body that it is time for sleep and it will set you up for a restful night.
Eat sleep friendly foods – Don’t eat any spicy, salty, or acidy foods too close to bedtime. Avoid food that is high in sugar and anything that has caffeine. All of these foods will either make you more alert and be likely to prevent you from being able to fall asleep, or lead to digestive discomfort which will disrupt your sleep later (or leave you feeling really bad in the morning!)
Reserve your bedroom for sleep time – Just like a bedtime routine, going to your bedroom and lying on your bed signals to your body that it is bedtime. Avoid doing it at other times throughout the day so that that association remains and you get sleepy when you are in there in the evening. If you tend to use your bed to study and watch movies in all day, you may not be able to sleep at night because your body associates the bed with some form of stimulating activity and now instead you are trying to fall asleep.
Calm your body and mind - Stay away from exercise, lots of screen time, or other activities that may require your brain to be at high alertness. The idea at the end of the night is to slow your brain down so it can shut down enough for you to sleep. Going for a run at 9pm and then studying and watching a horror TV show may not do much to help you calm your mind and go to sleep.
Drink sleepy tea – If you are having trouble sleeping naturally, there are several herbs which can have a drowsy affect on the body and can help you become sleepy. One of the most common is chamomile, which is often found in teas. There are also natural supplements to help with sleeping, and some people find taking melatonin (the body’s natural sleep hormone) to be helpful.
2) Why it’s important:
If you are trying to stay fit and healthy and lose weight, an important part of the process is recovery.
As soon as your body senses that it is depleted of any nutrients or too many calories, the natural instinct is to reserve what calories it has left, or use muscle as fuel. In a weight loss situation this translates to holding on to fat and then burning the muscle you have worked to build. Clearly this is not what you want! Furthermore, if you are an athlete, or very physically active, your body needs this time to rebuild your muscles. Not getting adequate sleep will hurt your athletic performance and prevent you from receiving maximal gains from your work.
By getting enough sleep, combined with proper fuelling and nutrition, you allow your body the recovery and rebuilding it needs to function properly while still helping you lose weight.
Not convinced yet?
There’s also a lot of other daily tasks that are negatively impacted by lack of sleep:
Concentration and mental alertness – Inability to focus, losing track of what you have done/not done, poor memory and short attention span.
Mood and emotion – The inevitable irritability, shortness and low level patience that comes from lack of sleep. It happens in adults and kids alike!
Hunger and thirst – Your body may confuse hunger with tiredness, making you think you are hungry and causing you to overeat, when really you just need a little bit more shuteye!
Poor decision making/critical thinking skills – If you’ve ever tried to study when you are too tired you know that you can’t even think clearly, let alone make any decisions or remember anything!
Now turn off your computer and go to sleep!