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Sleep Your Way To Success

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Sleep Your Way To Success


The Power of Sleep Hygiene and How Can It Help You

 

Sleep hygiene is quickly becoming a popular phrase, and rightly so. Most humans spend nearly ⅓ of their lives sleeping. As we continuously learn how our bodies respond to stress, we are also starting to understand the importance of sleep, especially good quality sleep, in the role of recovery from our workouts at the gym and our overall health and wellness.

 

For some medical professionals, quality of sleep is becoming another vital sign, in addition to our heart rate, body temperature, blood pressure, breathing rate, and oxygen levels.

 

Every day our bodies are subjected to all types of stress. From physical stress such as exercise, stress from having to work extra hours, to the added stress from traffic, and everything in between. Even making positive changes like getting in shape or losing weight puts a certain kind of stress on your body. 

 

Our sleep helps to set us up for the best success at rest and recovery from all this daily stress. And, to set us up for restful sleep, we need to focus on our sleep hygiene.

 

“Sleep is the most effective thing we can do to reset our brain and body health each day.” - Dr. Matthew Walker, Ph.D., author of Why We Sleep

 

 

Sleep Hygiene

 

Sleep hygiene is all about having good, healthy habits that support the best quality sleep possible. It takes into consideration your sleeping environment, your evening routine as you prepare for sleep, and even some of the choices you make during the day.

 

What does good quality sleep look and feel like?

 

Well, ideally you should be able to sleep at least 8 hours a night, uninterrupted. You should wake up feeling refreshed, energized, and ready to take on your day.

 

Chances are if you are reading this, the above paragraph does not describe your sleep. But you are not alone, weekly sleep disturbances occur in roughly 62% of the US population.

 

Let’s find out what good sleep hygiene is all about and how this can help you recover from stress, working out, and whatever else life may throw at you.

 

What is considered good sleep hygiene?

 

So many factors come into play when it comes to improving your sleep hygiene. Some factors are obvious, such as avoiding naps and caffeinated beverages in the afternoon and evening. Others are not so obvious.

 

Follow this list of tips and tricks to ensure you optimize your sleep hygiene:

 

    Create a routine! Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day.

    Try waking up to natural light to set your natural biological clock. Sunlight alarm clocks are a great way to implement this, especially during the dark days of winter.

    Only use your bed for sleep and sexual activity. Keep your work, food, and television outside of the bedroom.

    Avoid stressful or stimulating activities right before bed. Skip that extra episode of your favorite TV show, don’t talk about finances with your partner while getting ready for bed, and try not to go to the gym too late.

    In fact, avoid working out at least 2-3 hours before going to bed.

    However, exercise throughout the day can help you to sleep better that evening. So hit up the gym, go to kickboxing class, or do whatever exercise you enjoy!

    Avoid caffeine at least 4 hours before bedtime.

    And avoid alcohol and nicotine, which are also stimulants, at least 3-4 hours before going to bed.

    Avoid napping in the evening. And, if you end up napping during the day, keep it under 30 minutes.

    Make your bedroom or sleeping area cozy and relaxing. Limit light and electronics in the room. Avoid the use of electronics or screen time at least 30 minutes before bed.

    Aim for a comfortable temperature, which for most is colder than you would expect, from 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Avoid a large meal and excessive liquids 2-3 hours before.

 

As previously mentioned, 8 hours is really ideal for most adults. However, if you go to the gym regularly, 9-11 hours is recommended for the best recovery from your workouts.

 

If you stop and think about it, we are really the only creatures who voluntarily choose to skip out on sleep. Most of us think if we give up one hour of sleep, we can get more things done, be more productive, and hit our goals sooner. But the truth is, poor sleep, especially chronic poor sleep only makes even the simplest daily tasks harder to complete.

 

What happens if you do not prioritize your sleep?

 

Simply put, poor sleep impairs your daily function. Sleep is absolutely critical for proper functioning of the entire body!

 

Chronic poor sleep affects your:

 

    Cognitive function

    Ability to learn and recall information or memories

    Mental health

    Immune system

    Tissue healing

    Muscle growth

    Pain perception and control

    Neurological system

    Cardiovascular health

 

Without adequate, consistent sleep, you are at a higher risk for experiencing pain, reduced function, poor quality of life, and a decrease in wellbeing. You are also at a higher risk for experiencing depression, anxiety, and attention deficits. Your ability to fully function at home, work, or during recreational activities decreases while your chances of having an injury or accident increase. Even more surprising, poor sleep can lead to high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, dementia, and an overall increase in mortality rate.

 

So, you need to truly ask yourself:

 

    How much sleep do you actually get?

    Do you feel well-rested when you awake?

    Are you sleepy during the day?

    Do you have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep?

 

If you answer poorly to even one of these four questions, try and implement the above tips and tricks or work with a healthcare professional to help you get on the right path. Something as simple as going to the gym and getting more exercise can help you get a better, more restful night of sleep.

 

References

 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28789471/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5832516/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4046588/

 

 

 


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