Sleep is a crucially underrated health topic. More sleep makes you better at basically everything, from fitness to work to intelligence.
If you struggle with sleep - your sleeping patterns don't have to look like anybody else's, but there are a lot of things you can do to improve.
Sleep is easily one of the most overlooked topics when it comes to long term health.
I’ve written before about how hard, long work days are detrimental to your health and productivity. I’ve also written about how sometimes, learning how to quit something is a very valuable skill. Consistent, sustainable effort will always overtake intense, unsustainable effort in the short term.
Here’s some other stuff about sleep that you probably didn’t know:
Sleep is the way that your body recovers from, and adapts to, exercise. Poor sleep means poor adaptations, and poor adaptations means that you’re wasting your time in the gym. Studies have shown that more sleep results in more strength and muscle from exercise, increases short term performance, and even reduces your likelihood of being injured. The best way to improve your sleep in this way is simply to get more of it.
Sleep is a crucial way for your body to de-stress and recover from your day. More of it equals less stress, and helps avoid all the health problems related to high stress. It can also help manage psychological health.
More sleep means better heart health, and protects you against many potential health issues.
More sleep means that you perform better when you’re awake - everything from memory and problem solving skills to attention, creativity, and exercise performance.
At the same time, sleep is critically under-recommended. How many personal trainers have you met who have told you that you should focus on getting more sleep?
In fact, I’ve met many shitty coaches and trainers who recommended the exact opposite - doing whatever it takes to get your workouts in, even if that means working out late into the night, waking up super early, disrupting your normal sleep schedule, and otherwise cutting into your normal sleeping hours.
I once had a client who, although he loved working out, barely slept 5 hours a night. In the long run, he often came in exhausted for his workouts, and this caused him to struggle when it came to sticking to his diet. As a result, he would often eat impulsively.
So what can you do to improve your sleep?
As mentioned above, the best thing you can do is get more of it. While there’s such a thing as sleeping too much, and people with sleep disorders can struggle with this issue, people without sleep disorders generally only sleep as much as they need to - you’ll wake up before too long, in most cases. Given that most people’s problem in this busy world is too little sleep, this seems an unlikely problem for many.
Practice basic sleep hygiene. Keep screens out of your bedroom, and reserve your bedroom specifically for sleeping and related activities, if possible. Consider soothing music, eye masks, ear plugs, or other methods which can help you get into a sleeping routine. Habitually go to sleep and wake up at similar times each day if possible.
If you must use a phone, consider using an orange light option (if possible, I know that iPhones have them) or purchasing sleep glasses to reduce the blue light you have to deal with.
Naps work. They may not be the most consistent way to improve your sleep, and some people don’t like them, can’t do them, or can’t get into the habit, but they're still a way to get in more sleep.
Everyone sleeps differently - some people may be early or late risers, some people may thrive on more or less sleep, and it seems that this is at least partially genetically determined. Don’t sweat it if your ideal sleep doesn’t look like the next person’s.
Alcohol and caffeine should be appropriately managed. Caffeine is a stimulant, and should be avoided in the evening and managed appropriately to avoid the negative effects of addiction. Alcohol is a depressant, and can also have a huge negative impact on your sleep quality.
If you snore a lot, consider looking into whether or not you may have sleep apnea, and take appropriate steps to manage it.
Get into a soothing routine about 20-30 minutes before bedtime. De-stress and relax.
If possible, avoid using alarms - this may be next to impossible in this day and age, but letting sleep run its course is preferable to interrupting it early.
Do you have poor sleep habits? Start fixing them today.
Enjoy this post? Share the gains!
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