The importance of sleep for health fitness and performance.
Today i will be writing about sleep, not just the importance of it for your health and well being but how best to improve, maximise or in most of cases just get a decent 8 hours.
I decided to write this at 1 AM one morning (ironic i know). I had woken up to go to the toilet (who ever said drinking a liter of water before bed deserves a slap) i get back into bed and low and behold I AM WIDE AWAKE. I lay there for a good hour knowing i have to be up at
5 AM before thinking fuck it good make myself useful.
Granted this probably wasn't the best idea but i am currently a very lucky, in that i spend the major part of my day as a stay at home dad, so once the little monster is tucked up for his mid day nap guess where Daddy's going. Yep you got it i got my tired little head down in bed for a solid couple of hours.
Now don't get me wrong up until getting my little nap in my head was a mess and i am very aware that this is not possible for 90% of the people reading this. When i had a real job, waking up at 5AM, driving 1 hour, working 10 hour, driving 1 hour to the gym , training 2 hours then getting home to perform my duties as a father and husband if i didn't get a decent nights sleep i was fucked.
Just a couple of missed hours would mess me my day up. I wouldn't be able to concentrate on my work, i would be falling asleep at dinner time and missing that all important 30 minutes of social media scrolling time on my phone (we all know how important that is) playing the head nodding game in the car on the way home, because it's always fun realizing you have switched lanes but have no fucking idea how you got there and not to mention the massive effect it can have on your exercise and training performance.
So instead of my me waffling on about my lack of sleep experiences let's have a look at the big fundamentals on why you should get a good night's sleep and if you are struggling let's look at fixing that shit.
From a health point of view sleep is massively important
A good night's sleep is important for concentration and maximises problem solving skills and enhances memory. Studies have shown that during sleep, anything you learn through the day is cemented in the brain during sleep.
Poor sleepers have a greater risk of heart disease and stroke. Studies have shown people that sleep less than 7-8 hours are at a higher risk of heart disease and stroke.
Lack of sleep has been linked to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. Health studies have shown people start to show pre diabetic symptoms after just 6 consecutive nights of less than 6 hours of sleep.
Poor sleep patterns are strongly linked to depression. It is estimated that 90% of patients with depression have trouble sleeping
Sleep is vital to maintaining a healthy immune system. In a study where participants were exposed to the common cold virus through nasal drops, subjects that had less than 7 hours sleep where 3 times more likely to get a cold as opposed to the people that got 8 or more.
These are just a few reasons that sleep is so very important and there is way more, i could go through them all but this is already getting rather long so let's underline this section be saying
SLEEP IS VERY FUCKING IMPORTANT!!!
Now let's have a look at how to improve are sleep and how best to approach are bedtimes to maximise are head to pillow time.
Have a good sleep/bedtime routine. Remember when you when a baby (probably not) but if you you have kids you know that a baby needs a good bedtime routine to get them off to sleep. What makes you any different. A good routine can include not staring at a screen for the last 1-2 hours off the day, going to bed and waking up at the same time each night right down to that last glass of water before bed (don't make this a liter of water, as i have mentioned this can cause problems)
Watch what you eat and drink leading up to bedtime. Don't go to bed hungry, the thought of being hungry is just another unnecessary thought to clear out at the end of the day, plus the annoying hunger pangs will not help either.
Nicotine, caffeine and alcohol are best to be avoided a good few hours before bed. Nicotine and caffeine are stimulants that will keep you awake. And be the miracle you do get to sleep they wreak havoc on your sleep cycle. Alcohol may get you to sleep but it will disrupted your sleep later on in the night
Create a comfortable sleeping space. Points to consider on this are, temperature of the room often the cooler the better, it also wants to be as dark as possible no night lights kids and charge your phone in another room, most people are not that important that they need to sleep with their phone in arms reach. “But i use my phone as a alarm” you say, well buy a bloody alarm clock!
Your sleep surface or as any normal person like call to call them, your bed is massively important, you wouldn't sleep on a bed of nails so why would you sleep on a shit mattress. Your mattress and pillow set up are a personal preference, so make sure you try before you buy and take your time, remember the mattress man wants your money so try as many out as you can to find the right one. If you share your bed make sure it is big enough for the both of you. Not that this will stop your other half from taking up all the space anyway.
Limit your daytime naps, personal am a twat for this as i've mentioned at the start. Sleeping too much through the day can seriously affect your ability to get to sleep later on at night. If you do fancy having a little snooze, keep it to 10-30 minutes around midday to mid afternoon.
Get some exercise in this is my personal favorite. If i have not got my training in for the day i find it hard to get of to la la land. It doesn't need to be anything to crazy, just a evening walk at the end of the day can do it for most.
Manager your stress levels. Regular exercise can help with this but also try to build some unwind time into your night time routine.
So to bullet point this up because i know some of you will have got so far through me waffling on and scrolled to the bottom.
Sleep is good for,
Heart health and reduced risk of stroke
Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes
Help with and preventing depression
Vital for a healthy immune system
Ways to help get a good night's sleep
Have a good bedtime route
Be careful of how much you eat and drink leading to bedtime
Restrict or stay away from nicotine, caffeine and alcohol
Create a comfortable sleep space
Limit daytime naps
Get some exercise
Try to limit stress
And there we have it guys, it was a long one but we got there and if you are one of those that scrolled to the bottom to the bullet points scroll back up and have a minute.
Thanks for taking the time to read this guys, i hope it has been of some help and if you have any questions or just want to talk shit i'm available at the usual contact points below.