When it comes to getting in shape, a lot of talk revolves around calories, food quality, training, and overall exercise – all of which are essential and will be the foundations to your progress. However, there is another vital component to your development that people often overlook – sleep.
Many people underestimate the importance of sleep when it comes to weight loss or fat loss, but there are several reasons why it needs to be a priority. A high-quality night’s sleep of 7-9 hours gives your body much-needed rest and recovery from your daily exercise and tasks, which is also crucial to progression. Furthermore, you produce a large portion of your growth hormone when you sleep, particularly in the first two hours. In order to build lean muscle tissue and burn fat efficiently, we need growth hormones, and as your growth hormone levels decrease gradually in your late 20’s, the importance of sleep then increases.
Sleep also produces Melatonin in the pineal gland and is involved in energy metabolism. It also balances your cortisol levels (the stress hormone that is part of our survival mechanism), and your levels of your insulin (the major hormone that controls your blood sugar levels), which is vital for your body to be able to rest and recover from your activity during the day.
So, it is crucial to prioritise the quality and duration of your sleep, but many people struggle to achieve it. So, why is this? And how can you overcome it?
No Downtime in the Evening
Are you giving yourself enough time to relax after work? When you put the laptop down, your mind is likely to be racing, with numerous thoughts, worries and ideas from the day whirling around at once. Your mind needs to be in a calm state for you to be able to sleep properly. So, aim to finish work at least two hours before you go to bed to allow that calming process to begin. You will then improve your chances of falling asleep and staying there for the whole night.
It is imperative that you have a clear, calm mind as you go to bed. If you are stressing over something in your life, whether it be work, family, health or relationships, it can be very difficult for you to relax and gradually fall into a deep sleep. So, try to forget the challenges you face on a day-to-day basis and empty your thoughts. A good way to achieve this is through meditation, where you can slow down, take deep breaths, be positive and relax. This is vital for ensuring that you hit your sleep targets, both in terms of quality and duration.
Not Enough Physical Work During The Day
One of the biggest reasons why people to improve their sleep is because they do not physically work hard enough during the day. It sounds simple, but if you increase your energy output through training, walking, and general, everyday tasks, you are more likely to feel tired in the evening, increasing the need for rest and therefore improving your chances of having a better night’s sleep. People often do very little exercise during the day and don’t feel tired when they go to bed. If this is you, make sure you increase your physical activity during the day, so you feel more tired in the evening.
Too Much Screen Time
This is an area where a lot of people have problems, especially in the modern world, as it is common to check your phone before they go to bed after watching lots of TV in the evening. Increased screen time can delay the release of melatonin and your overall sleepiness, which can then lead to you being more restful during the night and reduce the number of hours you sleep in general. So, if you want better sleep, make sure you reduce the time in front of a screen – changing to reading is often a good option and should improve your rest and recovery.
Having a routine is vital when it comes to sleep pattern and quality. If you are going to bed and waking up at different hours, your body will struggle to adapt and maintain a high-quality sleep of 7 to 9 hours. For some people, due to work commitments, this can be an issue but it is important to plan when you want to go to sleep and stick to it consistently. Once you do this, your body will adapt and help you get those 7 to 9 hours a lot easier. It will also help with getting up early, and you won’t feel as tired in the morning.
Poor sleep can have a very negative effect on your life, and if you are suffering from it, you must identify the reasons why before you make any changes. These reasons could be having no downtime in the evening, high stress levels, not enough physical work, too much screen time, and a poor routine. Identify what is causing you to have poor sleep and then look at improving them. Once you do, the quality of your life, your progress, your productivity, and your overall health will improve.
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