If you’re eating and exercise are on point but you still don’t feel or look the way you want, poor sleep may be to blame. Here’s how to make rest a daily priority.
Struggling with your weight? Feeling bummed out? Sluggish during workouts? Or just sluggish in general? These are common complaints from new Thrive Fit Coaching clients. And poor diet isn’t always to blame.
Everything from basic cognitive function (being able to think clearly), to good decision making, to proper digestion, to performance in the gym in heavily dependent on getting good quality sleep.
Unfortunately, more than a third of adult get fewer than 7 hours of sleep each night, the minimum need to keep your risk of health problems in check.
In this article, we unpack early indicators that you’re not getting enough rest. Then we share exactly how to prep for the best night sleep, starting with when you wake up.
Download the infographic for your tablet, or to print out, and keep it as a handy reminder to prioritize high-quality sleep every day.
5 Signs Your Sleep Habits Aren’t Working for You
1. You’re Struggling with Your Weight
Poor sleep is linked to excess body fat, as it can:
- Disrupt appetite regulation
- Cause you to feel hungrier
- Lead to increased calorie intake
(Also excess body fat can reduce sleep quality.)
2. You’re Unhappy
While we sleep, we produce fresh neurotransmitters and regulate hormone production. Interference here causes:
- Impaired regulation of emotions
- Heightened stress
- Low mood
- Possible increase in risk of depression
3. Your Mind is Foggy
What we experience and learn gets cemented to memory while we sleep interference with this process causes
- Reduced alertness and concentration
- Impaired Judgement
4. You’re Getting Sick A Lot
When we don’t sleep enough, T-cells go down and inflammation goes up, resulting in:
- Increased vulnerability to virtues and bacteria
- Acute increase in risk of getting sick
- Increased risk of heart disease and other inflammation-related illness.
5. Your Workouts Feel Too Hard
Our body uses sleep as an opportunity to refresh neurotransmitter levels and remove energy-draining metabolites. Otherwise, we experience
- Decreased central nervous system activity
- Slower reaction time
- Low energy and endurance capacity
- Depressed mood
- Reduced desire to exercise
Preparing for a Good night’s Sleep
As odd as it sounds, your path to high-quality sleep starts in the morning.
Wake at The Right Time
You’ll feel better and more alert if you wake from a light sleep stage. If you feel groggy, consider a device or app that senses sleep cycles and rouses you at an optimal point.
(Note: We often recommend the Sleep Cycle Application. The creators define the application as an “intelligent alarm clock” that wakes you according to when you’re in the lightest phase of your sleep cycle)
Be Awakened by Light
This naturally raises cortisol, which is a good thing in the morning. The slow rise helps you feel alert and relaxed.
Get Moving Right Away
Movement seems to spend the waking process, whereas hitting snooze increased sleep inertia. When it’s time to wake sit up and put your feet on the floor.
Find the Sun (or a Light Therapy Box)
Light exposure sets your daily melatonin (a sleep hormone) rhythm. This increased wakefulness during the day and helps your body gear down at bedtime.
Be Careful of Alcohol and Caffeine
Consuming caffeine after 2pm and/or having more than 1-2 drinks in the evening can interfere with deep sleep.
Regular exercise helps normalize your body’s 24-hour clock, regulate your fight-or-flight system, and optimize your hormone levels. However, be careful with very intense exercise later in the evening. It may make it harder to fall asleep. (If you’re struggling to get exercise because you’re busy here is a simple 10 minute workout that can be done with virtually no eiqupment)
Eat a Small to Medium Dinner
Too much food can make it harder to fall asleep. A blend of minimally processed protein, carbs, and fats can help keep you satisfied until morning. Plus, having some slow-digesting carbs can make you feel sleepy. (Examples of the correct portion and how to eat based on your body type can be found here)
Drinking too much liquid shortly before bed can result in frequent waking for bathroom breaks.
Clear Your Mind
Whatever thoughts are in your head, get them out and onto paper. This preps you for genuine relaxation.
Go to Bed (Actually)
Sticking to a reasonable bedtime teaches your body when to release calming hormones to help you fall asleep. (Tip: Don’t wait until midnight. Every hour of sleep before 12am is worth two hours after. )
Sleep At Least Seven hours
Most people need 7-9 hours of sleep per night. If you’re getting far less now, that’s okay. Just work your way up slowly. Even adding 30 minutes can make a big difference.
6 More Tips for Better Sleep
1. Turn off Electronics
Remove your eyes from all devices at least 30 minutes before bed. Artificial light interferes with our production of melatonin, which ensures deep sleep and may help regulate metabolism.
Reading, meditation, and gentle movements (mobility, walking, sex) can release tension and activate calm-down chemicals.
3. Take a Bath or Shower
Warm water can help us relax and de-stress. Throw in some magnesium-based Epsom salts, known to help with sleep.
4. Create a Relaxing Sleep Area
Your bedroom should be quiet, peaceful, relatively organized, and free of anxiety-inducing clutter. If you live in an urban area, consider a white noise machine to drown out city sounds.
5. Set Your Room To an Appropriate Temperature
Most people sleep better when it’s cool (19 degrees); others sleep better at neutral temperature. Find what works best for you.
6. Make the Room as Dark as Possible
To maximize melatonin production, cover your windows and turn your phone face-down. Use a motion-sensitive or dim night light to illuminate mid-sleep bathroom trips.
There you have it: Why sleep is so important, how to tell if you’re not getting enough, and how to engineer the perfect day for a great night’s rest.
Download the infographic as a reminder to up your sleep game. And please share with a friend who might benefit from it.
Want help sorting all this out?
This is simple stuff. But it’s not necessarily easy to put into practice, especially with the consistency needed to see results.
If you’re looking for help and guidance yourself, we can help.
We accept a very small number of new clients every month, so if you’re motivated and tired of being stuck click on the “I want to get started button“. Spots at our private studio are first come, first serve, and when they’re gone, they’re gone.
Brian has worked and studied along all parts of the performance continuum, from clinical courses to working with elite athletes. He has also experienced this same continuum first-hand, from rehabbing serious injuries to competing as a powerlifter.
Brian is a self-proclaimed education junkie and – year after year – invests hundreds of hours into honing his craft. His passion comes through on the training floor and in his enthusiasm for getting the most out of everyone he works with.
His career has evolved from personal training, membership services, management and consulting . After such a diverse range of experiences, he is now happy to call Thrive Fit home.
Brian understands what kind of training will bridge the gap between where people are and where they want to be. He also appreciates what it’s like to begin that process (and how nerve-wracking it can be for some). At Thrive Fit, Brian focuses his efforts into streamlining entry and removing any barriers to people reaching their true potential.