If you’re not getting your beauty rest, you’re not likely seeing the results of the hard work you’re putting in at the gym.
The other day I had a friend approach me looking for my advice on some concerns she had regarding her fitness. She was not happy with her results after putting in tons of cardio time after work, dumping a bunch of money into new supplements and taking at least three group fitness classes like Zumba and Cycle each week. Actually, she said she felt like she was losing progress since she had started a few months ago!
So, sitting back and analyzing what she had told me, I simply asked, “How are you sleeping?” And it all made sense to me when she responded.
We tend to live the “hustle, bustle”, “burn it to earn it” type lifestyle. A lifestyle that often includes but is not limited to a crazy-high amount of work, relationship, and general stress. We then compound that stress with an exorbitant amount of stimulants generally in the form of caffeine and a high volume workout late in the day just to top things off! Unfortunately, this stress is what is keeping us up past midnight and leaving us feeling groggy and slow to start the next day. We need to alleviate the amount of stress we have in our lives. And when we do, we will sleep better and in turn get the results we are looking for from our healthy and active lifestyle!
Sleep is no joke.
You need it! Here’s Why.
Your body undergoes the repair process at night, specifically between the hours of 10pm and 6am, so try to aim to be head on the pillow, under the sheets by those hours to maximize your recovery.
If you’re having problems hittin’ the hay on time, check the list below for some ideas that don’t involve counting sheep!
Turn down your house lights by about 6pm each night
Why? It’ll trick your body into thinking the day is over and the natural winding down process will kick in. No dimmer switch? Get romantic and light a few lavender candles. Lavender is a natural sleepy-time aroma that’ll aid in your quest for the quality zzz’s.
Reduce daily intake of caffeine
Why? Caffeine is a stimulant. Stimulants keep us awake. Not to mention they increase cortisol (stress hormone) levels in our body. Limit this and you will increase your chance of quality rest. Really love the java? Switch to decaf in the afternoon.
Have your workout earlier in the day
Why? Because your body treats physical stress just like any other kind, so late-day workouts increase your chance of tossing and turning and decrease the likelihood of seeing the smokin’ hot six-pack you want for beach season.
Stretch more or find a yoga class
Why? Yoga and stretch/relaxation therapy has been proven to calm the mind, body and soul for centuries. The meditative state you can achieve really helps to balance your hormones and will, in turn, help you rest. Hey guys, one word – Lululemon.
Turn off the phone, TV and computer a few hours before bed
Why? Your body will sense these types of activities as an invitation to stay up and party because it’s a new day! Want something to do? Write a journal, read a book or listen to some relaxing music while sipping on some natural herbal tea. That’ll knock you out for sure!
All of these points will help you get your body and mind ready for a peaceful rest each night and with any luck, asleep by 10:30pm! The importance of quality sleep is crucial regardless of if you’re looking to lose weight, build muscle or improve your athletic performance. The bottom line is without a proper rest you are limiting your chance of success. Sleep well, my friends!
Article by Mike Schwartz, personal trainer and nutrition coach.