In my opinion, a good night’s rest can sometimes be as beneficial as a good workout. As a matter of fact, I’ve written about this topic in the past. Insufficient sleep can sabotage even the most disciplined health plan because tiredness and everyday fatigue can often make you fall into a vicious cycle of not getting great sleep and letting your fitness routine go to the wayside.
Today, I want to share with you how your sleep affects your workout, some of the benefits of getting a good night’s sleep and give you tips to help improve your sleep quality.
You may be reading this and thinking ‘how are improved sleep habits going to help boost my fitness level?’
Well, here’s a little bit of exercise science for you.
The Studies and the Science
Studies have shown that a well-rested athlete performs better. Student athletes studied after one night of sleep deprivation showed significantly slower reaction times, while Stanford University basketball players who increased the amount of time they spent sleeping per night showed real benefits to their athletic performance.
The players increased their sleep time to a minimum of 10 hours per night, which increased their speed, accuracy, and overall reflexes. On the professional side, NBA player Steve Nash popularized the keeping of a detailed sleep journal, convincing a number of his friends to do the same.
You know how good a full night’s sleep makes you feel.
Still, most of us miss out on sleep occasionally, so what is it about this deprived state that is so detrimental to performance?
Lack of sleep can decrease your body’s ability to metabolize glucose efficiently and can also cause levels of the hormone cortisol to rise. Since the body uses glucose and glycogen, or stored glucose, as fuel for athletic performance, any inefficiency in metabolizing it can negatively affect your energy stores for endurance workouts.
When cortisol is at a continuously elevated rate, it can suppress the production of other hormones such as testosterone and cause decreases in thyroid and adrenal function, responsible for metabolism and energy, respectively. Too much cortisol has a negative impact on the body’s ability to heal, which can increase the risk of injuries. See my other post about this topic HERE
So, here are some good bedtime habits to go to sleep.
Create a wind-down routine
Just like the routine I set for my children, we should also set a routine to help signal our brain that it is time to calm down and begin the “sleepy time process” (thats what we say to our kids). It can be as small as having a quick shower, washing your face and reading two chapters to doing special yoga poses or meditation before you hit the sack. Just do something to set a sleep pattern.
Find bedding and a sleep environment that makes you relaxed and comfortable. Whether it be your favorite pillow from when you were a kid or new heat managing bedding from us. Find something that helps you feel calm and relaxed. Also, making your bed is another way to feel calm. A cluttered room can cause anxiety so maybe make that pare of your wind-down routine… pick up unnecessary items and put them away.
Avoid using the computer and TV as part of your bedtime routine as much as possible. The light messes with our brains and makes us think it is time to be awake. TURN IT OFF!
Avoid a late night sugar rush
Avoid sugary foods and alcohol before bedtime. Alcohol in particular can be responsible for disrupting the most important part of your sleep cycle and could wake you up in the middle of the night to feeling warm and uncomfortable.
As I mention above about the electronics, exposure to light also affects your natural circadian rhythm. Blackout blinds and eye mask or just turning off the lamp near your bed helps you get your prepared for sleep.