Fitness columnist Emmet Rushe outlines strategies that can help you get a better night’s sleep.
This past week has been an eventful one for me.
It all started at 5am last Friday morning.
The alarm went off as usual for me to get up for work, but today I had my brothers stag party to go to.
The 5 am start ended at 2:30 am and was similar on Saturday.
It would be great if I could say that I got home on Sunday and all week I was able to catch up on the lost sleep, but I can’t.
I have been doing backstage for the Letterkenny Musical Society’s Wizard of Oz production.
So, this past week has been much of the same in regards to sleep.
5am to 12am for most of the week.
Why does this matter?
It matters because sleep is one of the most important parts of any health and fitness regime.
For the most part, I am pretty good when it comes to my diet and training.
I can easily pass on most things that are offered to me and I don’t miss training sessions unless something important comes up.
This week that wasn’t the case.
Food choices were poorer and training sessions, even though they weren’t missed, were poor also.
This was to be expected and I was able to work around this the best I could, but imagine if this is the case from week to week on an ongoing basis.
The recommended amount of sleep per night should be between 7-8 hours.
The average for adults today is around 6 hours.
No big deal, right?
Sleep is the ultimate recovery tool. It is how our bodies and minds repair and recover from daily stresses and it is also how our bodies recover from our exercise and training sessions.
It is as important as a proper nutrition plan when it comes to your weight loss or muscle building goals.
Everything that you do will be affected by a lack of sleep.
1. Your food choices will be poorer
When you are tired, you will always be looking for ways to give yourself a kick start.
High sugary foods, energy drinks and high levels of caffeinated drinks are usually the first thing that people will reach for to get them through the day.
You will probably not have the time or energy prepare proper meals and may be tempted to go for the pre-packaged processed food choice, or the take away.
2. Your body will work against you.
In a sleep deprived state, our bodies wreak havoc with our hormones. Our stress hormone cortisol will be high and our hormones Leptin and Ghrelin can also be affected.
If cortisol is high during sleep you can be in a heightened state of alertness, not what you want for going to sleep.
Ghrelin is a hunger-stimulating hormone that tells us when to eat.
Leptin is an appetite suppressant hormone that tells us when to stop eating.
When we are in a sleep deprived state we have higher levels of Ghrelin and lower levels of Leptin, which means we will have a false hunger and this can contribute to the poor food choices mentioned above and we won’t know when to stop eating them.
All this could lead to excess weight gain.
What can we do to help?
Here are 10 strategies that can help you to wind down and relax and may help you to get a better night’s sleep.
- Set a bedtime and stick to it.
- Turn off all technology for 2 hours before bed.
- Read a book.
- Take a bath
- Get your room to the right temperature; not too cold, not too hot.
- Invest in a good mattress and some good pillows.
- Avoid caffeine.
- Eat carbs in your last meal before bed. (They won’t make you fat)
- Once your alarm is set, don’t look at your phone and turn your clock so you can’t see it.
- Drink some chamomile tea before bed.
Sleep is underrated by a lot of people when it comes to their goals, but it could be the ace in the pack that helps you win or lose.