Remember when you were young and you hated going to bed? You would kick and scream against it and procrastinate constantly – You wanted to stay up all night!
Well, how things have changed! Now most people desperately want more sleep but aren’t managing to get it and are therefore missing out on all the wonderful restorative, fat burning, muscle building benefits sleep brings.
It is such a vital component of body re-composition that many of the best coaches in the world are targeting it as their first priority with clients, long before working out, macros, sets and reps.
Are you getting enough sleep?
It’s important not to confuse getting sleep with getting rest. Sometimes we lay on the couch, watching TV or scrolling through our social media and think this is restful and makes up for not going to bed early.
Not so! Your body may be in a relaxed state but your mind isn’t. You are still mentally engaged and stimulated and it can leave you more tired than you were initially.
Plan your sleep as you do other parts of your day. A good sleep can be prepared for from the moment you wake up.
If you still aren’t convinced that sleep is important consider this – when you are tired your body demands you find energy from somewhere. If you don’t get enough recovery, then it will do all in its power to make you get extra energy from calories. Cue vastly increased cravings and hunger!
Try some of these tips
1. Consider using a sleeping app
There are quite a few apps out there which can track and monitor your sleep. A great one to try is Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock.
You can set a half hour window in which the app can wake you and it detects when are you are sleeping at your lightest within that time period. This makes for a more gentle wake up than an alarm going off when you are in a deep sleep.
2. Engage in moderate exercise
Research shows moderate exercise can reduce stress, increase productivity, prolong life and boost your overall health and wellness. Research also shows that regular light exercise is one of the best treatments for people who suffer from exhaustion and fatigue.
You are probably sick of hearing this one!
Meditation is touted as the cure-all for almost everything these days, but there is no doubt it has hugely positive effects on those who do it. If you are like me and really struggle with this, I recommend the Headspace app.
This starts you off in much more do-able chunks – just three minutes! And it gives you reminders and encouragement each day.
With stress being the number one cause of people not sleeping well, it is definitely a fantastic place to start.
4. Use relaxation techniques before bed
Try out deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, left nostril breathing or even having a relaxing tea such as Sleepytime Tea.
5. Use a journal
Surprisingly, research has shown expressing gratitude is known to improve sleep!
So be sure to journal what you are grateful for each night. You can also jot down anything you want to remember for the morning, so your brain isn’t active and trying to remember it all night.
6. Keep your room cool, quiet and dark
Try to avoid watching TV, use a back lit screen or anything with a blue light before bed.
7. Use lavender
The scent of lavender is relaxing so putting a lavender bag in where you store your bedding or using a lavender spray on your pillow might help.
8. Don’t nap too much
Try to avoid napping during the day as it reduces your ability to feel fatigued and sleepy at night.
9. Keep hydrated
Research has shown that being well hydrated throughout the day can help you to sleep better at night.
10. Be mindful with stimulants
Avoid using stimulants such coffee, alcohol or pre workouts in the afternoons or evenings. The cut off time is very individual though – know yourself and your own body.
11. Keep it consistent
Try maintaining a consistent going to bed and waking up schedule. But if you aren’t getting enough sleep, gradually bring your bed time forward in small increments until you are.
12. Consider a supplement
13. Add some plants to your bedroom
As well as looking great, plants such as Aloe Vera, English Ivy and Snake Plant purify the air and produce oxygen which helps with sleep.
14. Experiment with snacks before bed
Some sleep better if they have a snack before bed whereas others sleep better if they don’t eat anything for two to three hours before bed.
Experiment with what works best for you! If you are having a snack, make it a carbohydrate one. Research has shown that carbs increase serotonin levels and lower cortisol, both of which help you relax and de-stress.
Try whole foods though rather than refined and processed carbs. Contrary to bro-science, carbs before bed won’t turn into fat! If you are in a calorie deficit, it doesn’t really matter when you have them.
15. Wear socks
This might not be super sexy but research has shown that the warmer your hands and feet are the faster you’ll fall asleep!
Try prioritising sleep and see for yourself the amazing benefits you can receive!
As the Dalai Lama says “Sleep is the best meditation.”