Sleep: A Vital Component of Well-Rounded Fitness
Think back to the moment that you opened your eyes this morning. Did you feel well-rested and ready to tackle a new day? Did you groggily fumble for your screaming alarm clock in attempts to turn it off? If you are like some 40% of adults who say that they experience daytime sleepiness severe enough that it interferes with daily activities, chances are you could go for a couple more hours of shut-eye.
Sleepiness not only interferes with your daily life, but if you’re trying to get fit, it can also derail your best efforts to do so. This article on sleep deprivation describes how a chronic lack of sleep can increase your appetite, along with your stress hormone levels. Although this combination makes it difficult for your body to metabolize glucose, a lack of sleep can actually make you crave more carbohydrates to help you stay awake. If you’re still not convinced that sleep influences your weight and fitness, this study describes how getting more sleep can actually turn off obesity genes!
The bottom line is that not getting enough sleep can damage your metabolism. So, if you are trying to lose weight or increase your fitness, making time to get adequate sleep is essential. If you are one who struggles to fall asleep or stay asleep, here are some tips that may help you get better rest tonight.
1. Purge worries and to-dos from your mind. You may be interested to learn that sleep deprivation is actually listed as a form of torture by Amnesty International. Many people inflict torture on themselves by worrying and reviewing the following day’s to-do list in their mind while they are trying to fall asleep. Not only does this prevent you from falling asleep, but it also impacts your ability to carry out that to-do list once the new day arrives.
Tony Schwartz, president and CEO of The Energy Project, recommends winding down at least 45 minutes before turning out the light. In a Harvard Business Review article, he advises people to create a ritual that encourages relaxation before going to bed. This could be as simple as listening to music or sipping herbal tea. He also recommends writing down what’s on your mind. If there are unfinished items on your to-do list, or unresolved issues that will cycle through your mind throughout the night, jot them down on a piece of paper. Doing so will help you get them out of your head so that you can rest. The piece of paper will always be there in the morning to deal with.
2. Stick to a set sleep schedule. Sticking to a set bedtime and wake time helps your body recognize when it’s time to fall asleep and when it’s time to wake up. Although it sounds simple, there are often many items clamoring for our attention. This makes it tempting to skimp on sleep in order to get more items checked off of a to-do list. Ignore this temptation and pencil in your bedtime. It’s worth it.
3. Exercise regularly. Ironically, if lack of sleep is interfering with your ability to get fit, making sure that you get regular exercise will help you sleep better. The Sports Club at Garden of the Gods Club offers a variety of group fitness classes, personal training, Pilates, and more to help you get enough exercise. Just make sure that you don’t exercise within three to four hours of going to sleep, as working out can energize you and keep you awake.
4. Create a relaxing bedroom environment. The American Psychology Association recommends minimizing noise, light, and excessive hot or cold temperatures where you sleep. This helps to create a relaxing environment in which you can sleep soundly. Try to incorporate elements that are soothing to you, such as a relaxing aromatherapy candle or spray, arranging furniture in a way that appeals to you, or decorating with soothing and relaxing colors like green and blue.
Getting enough sleep is crucial to managing your weight and staying fit. And, if you would like help in your fitness efforts, we encourage you to contact our Director of Membership, Tracey Kalata, about our affordable Sports Club memberships. In the meantime, we hope that these tips help you get some rest!