Guilt tripping because you slept in and missed the gym? You shouldn’t. Although regular exercise and a nutritious diet are key to a healthy lifestyle, we sometimes forget to place as much emphasis on getting enough sleep. There’s clear evidence to show that a lack of decent shut-eye has both short and long-term harmful effects on your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
Here are 4 reasons why getting a good night’s sleep is so important, particularly when you’re focused on reaching your health and fitness goals.
Concentration and performance
Have you ever noticed how hard it is to think clearly after a poor night’s sleep? Scientists believe that one of the main reasons for sleep is to maintain healthy cognitive functioning. Each night when we drift off, our brain works to consolidate memories, organise new facts, and essentially ‘tidy up’ the neural connections which process stored information.
When you don’t get enough sleep, it’s much harder to keep your mental game on point. Whether it’s to enhance your performance and productivity at work, or if you’re training hard to reach a new PB, getting the recommended 7-9 hours of quality sleep every night is essential.
Muscle rest and recovery
If you exercise a lot, you’ll already know how important sleep is for muscle rest and recovery. During the deepest part of the sleep cycle growth hormones are released in your body to repair and regrow tissues, build bone and muscle and strengthen your immune system. This means that if you’re frequently waking up, it’ll take longer to recover from an injury or to reach your fitness goals.
It goes without saying that a good quality mattress is vital for getting an uninterrupted night’s sleep. Some mattresses are made specifically to promote better sleep by addressing spinal alignment and muscular tension.
The Bruno Mattress, for example, is an orthopaedic mattress from Germany, and is relatively new here in the UK. Their mattress has a foam base with 7 precise zones, which are designed to support the natural curvature in your spine, effectively easing pressure in your shoulders, hips and lower back. Without aches and pains to wake you up throughout the night, your body has the opportunity to physically rejuvenate, so in the morning you’ll feel completely rested and ready to jump back into training.
Emotional processing and wellbeing
There’s a reason why it’s called waking up on the wrong side of the bed. After a night of tossing and turning, it’s usual to find yourself feeling grumpy and irritable the next day. Studies show that sleep deprivation negatively impacts our mood, social interactions and emotional processing abilities.
What’s more, poor sleep reduces our motivation to exercise, which can heighten stress and anxiety, in turn making it more difficult to fall asleep. It becomes a frustrating and self-perpetuating cycle.
If you are struggling with bouts of insomnia, try practising meditation to calm your emotions, clear your mind and encourage a deeper sleep.
Maintain a healthy diet
Adequate sleep is crucial for maintaining a healthy and balanced diet. There’s nothing surprising about the fact that when you’re struggling to stay awake, your body craves the fastest energy fix it can find – high-sugar, high-fat, and low-nutrition food.
On a chemical level, sleep deprivation sends our hormones a little haywire. Spiked levels of cortisol and grehlin increase your appetite, whilst the ‘satiety hormone’ leptin decreases, so your body can’t tell when you’re full. Overall, after just one night of insufficient sleep, you’re much more likely to make poor food choices and consume more calories than your body actually needs.
So the next time you think having a lie-in is a lazy option, relax and get back under the covers. In the long run, there are a lot of health and wellness benefits to be gained for a few extra hours of snooze.
Do you have some tips for getting a good sleep at night? Share them with us on twitter @everyday_man.
This is a partnership post in association with Bruno