If you are anything like us you have a lot of things on your plate and maybe even tend to over commit yourself to things. One of the many things I have learned throughout my health and fitness lifestyle change is that my sleep is extremely important to the success of my workouts, recovery, focus, mood, and weight loss. Throughout college and even a few years after college I never really thought twice about how much sleep I got each night, let alone the quality of sleep I got. Fast forward a few years to now, and I know that if I do not get my seven to nine hours of sleep it is going to be a rough few days till I get caught up. I always tell my clients to aim for eight hours of sleep each night, and if you end up only getting seven hours in I will still be happy.
Here are SEVEN reasons that a good nights sleep is important:
- You’ll be in a better mood. We can’t promise that you will be all sunshine and rainbows, but studies show that people who get a good nights sleep are less exhausted and crabby. When you’re overtired, you’re more likely to snap at someone, cry for no reason, or start laughing uncontrollably.
- Better control of your weight. Having a good nights sleep gives you more energy throughout the day, causing you to have more energy during your workouts. Also, the hormone leptin plays a key role in making you feel full. When you don’t get enough sleep, leptin levels drop, and as a result: people who are tired are just plain hungrier — and they seem to crave high-fat and high-calorie foods specifically.
- You can think clearer. After a good nights sleep you typically wake up feeling refreshed vs when you are running on less hours your brain tends to be in a fog or you wake up and just run on auto pilot going through the motions of your day.
- Helps you fight off illness. Ever notice that after finals week or when you have a big project due at work that you tend to get some type of cold or sinus infection? Were you running a little to no sleep?
- Improves your memory. Studies have shown that while we sleep, our brains process and consolidate our memories from the day. If you don’t get enough sleep, it seems like those memories might not get stored correctly — and can be lost. Remind you of the movie Inside Out???
- Increases your pain tolerance. There is a link between lack of sleep and lower pain tolerance. If you are fighting an injury getting enough sleep could actually help you hurt less.
- Keep you (and others) safe on the roads. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported in 2009 that being tired accounted for the highest number of fatal single-car run-off-the-road crashes due to the driver’s performance—That is more than alcohol! Sleeplessness affects reaction time and decision making. So if you are not going to get the extra sleep for yourself, then think of the other hundreds of people who are driving around you while you are fighting from falling asleep behind the wheel.
Make the commitment to get seven to nine hours of sleep every night. If that sounds like an impossible task, set a goal to get that much sleep four or five nights a week. Give yourself a bed time just like your parents use to, or maybe just like how you give your children one now too. Be strict about it!! You’re body and health and fitness journey will thank you for it!