SLEEP: The Cheat Sheet

Are you working hard to perform, but hitting a plateau?

Do you wake up not feeling refreshed?

One of the biggest limitations for many high-achieving individuals  is a lack of high quality sleep. Not only does sleep enable us to recharge our batteries, it’s a time when we give the body an opportunity to rest, repair and reset

Without high quality sleep, it is impossible to achieve big goals and move efficiently through your hefty to-do list!

Sleep will assist with growth and maintenance of lean muscle mass (important for changing the shape of our bodies) and will also help to reduce cortisol – a stress hormone that can contribute to body fat storage, particularly around the midsection.

Instead of getting stuck in the cycle of training more and eating less, try aiming for hours of sleep per night and notice the impact that this can have on your health goals

Here are some tips to improving your sleep quality, duration and enjoyment

  • Reduce your intake of caffeine, particularly after midday. If you struggle to sleep or have pre-existing anxiety, irritability or hormonal imbalances, consider removing caffeine completely.
  • Reduce the vino. You may think that a cheeky nightcap leaves you feeling drowsy and helps to send you to sleep. Alcohol can make us fall asleep more quickly, but it reduces the quality of our sleep. Drinking alcohol reduces the amount of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, our dreamy, deep and restorative state.
  • Get to sleep by 10:30pm. This usually means in bed by around 10. If this is difficult for you, try setting yourself a sleep alarm to alert you to when it’s time to start getting ready for sleep.
  • Use blackout curtains. Minimising environmental light pollution (particularly if you live in a densely populated area) can really help to reduce the time it takes to fall asleep and your sleep quality. This includes covering any lights or distractions such as alarm clocks.
  • Cut the Wi-Fi.  Although most of us are surrounded by Wi-Fi networks, it won’t hurt to turn off your router at the switch. This applies to all excessive power outlets, switches, and electronics.
  • Do not expose yourself to bright lights, TV screens, computers, tablets and smartphones after dark. This practice will spike your stress hormone, cortisol, keeping you from drifting off.
  • Move! Exercise will help promote blood-flow and help sleep. However, for some, high intensity exercise and interval training can in fact impair sleep. If you find it difficult to fall asleep after training, limit your harder sessions to earlier in the day and stick to more gentle activities like strength training, walking and yoga in the afternoons and evening.
  • Hone your evening routine. Develop healthy evening habits by creating your very own behaviour pattern. Whether it’s a magnesium salt and lavender bath, phone curfews, herbal tea or essential oils, our environment can be very powerful when it comes to building habits and training the behaviour we want.

If you struggle to get 7-8 hours sleep per night, make sure that you are incorporating some extra “rest time” into your day

Meditation, yoga, offline time and short naps can help to reduce stress levels and encourage the hormonal responses associated with sleep and rest.

If you’d like to chat to us more about how to get some more Z’s, contact us now!