Sleep. Good for Your Fitness. Good for Your Career.
Sleep is an ignored part of our progress
If we expect to get rid of excess fat, put on the lean muscle we desire, and just feel good in our skull, then we MUST improve our sleep. What about our sleep should be improved? The length, the timing, and the quality. I consider sleep along with proper nutrition to be the two main foundational elements to every fitness or lifestyle pursuit.
More on why we need good sleep
Since this is holistic fitness, let’s talk about fat and muscle first. A good workout helps us improve our strength and body composition (fat vs. lean)—simple. Any workout we do when we’re tired and/or sleep deprived will not be as good. Additionally, when we get inadequate sleep AFTER a workout we won’t have enough time to recover and build muscle during the deepest stages of sleep.
The effects of sleep deprivation on our metabolism can be disastrous. The hormones that control our appetite can be thrown off balance, causing us to crave high-carb, easily accessible snack foods. Coupled with rising cortisol levels as one of the first responses to inadequate sleep, this is a recipe for holding on to that last bit of fat. A more chronic metabolic problem of inadequate sleep is insulin resistance, which could lead to high blood sugar.
Even our decisions at the workplace can suffer from lack of sleep. Imagine having to revise plans due to impaired decision making ability, or miscommunicating or being short-tempered. We owe it to ourselves and the ones who surround us to be at our best.
Knowing you’re sleep deprived
Sometimes it’s easy to know that you need better sleep. The tiredness, weakness, and brain fog throughout the day make it apparent. What if we don’t notice that we are functioning at a low-level because it’s our new normal? Do you fall asleep in less than 10 minutes? If you do, it could be a sign of sleep deprivation.
What steps can we take for better sleep?
Time is the first consideration, both the time of day and the duration. The closer we can get to bed with sunset, the better it is for our circadian rhythm and brain physiology. That’s not always easy in a modern society, but we can improve our lifestyle without up-ending it. Can you get to bed an hour or a half-hour earlier? Great.
Not sleeping deeply enough? You’ll know it if you wake up frequently throughout the night, and don’t feel rested throughout the day. Here are some things to consider trying:
Theanine supplement. It’s an amino acid that helps to counteract the caffeine in our system, and helps us feel relaxed.
Chamomile. Use it as a tea, herbal extract, essential oil, or another way. It’s very calming to numerous body systems, especially the muscular and nervous systems. The nervous system is where your brain lives.
Use a pillow between your thighs if you wake up with lower-back pain.
Meditate. Chill the hell out in the evening, and let your flight-or-flight response wind down into rest-and-recovery mode.
Improve your sleep, and it will spill over into every aspect of your life in a good and noticeable way. Talk with me more about your sleep in our next workout! There is a good chance I will have something else to add 😊
Sleep deprivation and obesity in adults: a brief narrative review. BMJ Open Sport Exerc Med. 2018 Oct 4;4(1):e000392. doi: 10.1136/bmjsem-2018-000392. eCollection 2018.
The impact of sleep deprivation on decision making: A review. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, Vol 6(3), Sep 2000, 236-249