Getting enough sleep may be the single biggest improvement that you can make for your health. We are often very aware of our exercise and food intake behaviours, but most of us forget about an equally important aspect of our lives.

Sleep.

With so many of my 28er’s proactively working to improve their fitness and nutrition, it’s time to highlight the importance of getting a good night’s sleep and the impact it can have on our physical and mental health, and our overall sense of wellbeing.

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Why is sleep important?

Just like needing enough food and regular exercise, adequate sleep is central to giving us enough energy for our busy lives and to bring the best of ourselves to our work and our relationships. When we don’t get enough of it, we not only lack the energy to tackle the day ahead, but we also tend to make poor food choices and lose motivation to work out (or do anything for that matter!).

Consistent lack of sleep is linked with high blood pressure and heart disease, so putting a good night’s rest at the top of our list of priorities is a must.

We need sleep to keep our immune system healthy and in good working order. Sleep is also essential in helping heal and repair the heart and blood vessels.

LET GO OF THE SCREEN

In our tech-savvy society, it’s no surprise that we are very bad at putting ourselves to bed. Our addiction to screens and our unwillingness to ‘switch off’ is wasting valuable hours of quality zzz’s time, making it extremely hard for us to fall asleep and often leaves us feeling sluggish, slow and demotivated. How often have you had the experience of falling asleep in front of a TV show that you were only half watching? So many of our sleep problems stem from too much screen time. Turn off the telly and give yourself a peaceful and timely transition into a deep sleep so that you can get a good night of rest and avoid sleep deprivation.

SAY GOODBYE TO GOOGLE

How many of us end up wasting away hours searching the net, being unproductive as the hours fly by? Is what you’re searching for more important than a good night’s sleep? If you have trouble sleeping, then sometimes you simply need to ask yourself, what is preventing me from stopping this habit? & Is it a fear of missing out (FOMO)? A sense of boredom? Or a feeling of letting go? Explore it for yourself and better still offer yourself an experiment. Take a couple of minutes to feel what it feels like to make that action. It may be uncomfortable in that moment. But how good does it feel to know that we are looking after our brains, our hearts and our minds by going to bed on time? You’ll thank yourself in the morning.

GUILT ABOUT NAPPING

Of course, napping may be a luxury for many of us who have jobs where we simply can’t have a nap in the afternoon. We may have kids who make sleep difficult at the best of times. Where possible, a nap when we are actually tired is good for our whole system. There may be times on the weekend when it would be possible to sleep and when this would be the most effective use of our time. We may have no time at all, but if you do, have a nap. A nap has many benefits including renewed attention and energy for the rest of the day. While they don’t necessarily make up for inadequate or poor quality nighttime sleep, a short 20-30 minutes with your eyes shut can help to improve mood, alertness and performance.

Sleep (or lack of it) directly influences our mental and physical health. The benefits of getting enough sleep range from better heart health and less stress to improved memory and weight loss. Who wouldn’t want that? Go on, take a nap.

When you’re deprived of sleep, your brain can’t function properly, affecting your cognitive abilities and emotional state. If it continues long enough, it can lower your body’s defences, putting you at risk of developing chronic illness, including cancer.

The more obvious signs of sleep deprivation are excessive sleepiness, yawning, and irritability.

Chronic sleep deprivation can interfere with balance, coordination, and decision-making abilities. If this doesn’t make you want to hit the snooze button, we’re not sure what will.


START WITH SOME SIMPLE SLEEP STRATEGIES:

1. Aim to go to sleep at the same time each night, and set your alarm clock for the same time each morning. I recommend aiming for 7.5 hours of sleep each night – this is the sweet spot!

2. Cut out caffeine intake after 2pm

3.. Turn off all screens an hour before you go to bed

4.. Make time every day for your 28-minute exercises, this can significantly help you sleep at night

5. Avoid any alcohol close to bedtime

6. Improve your sleep quality by making your bedroom as dark and cool as possible

7. Take a nap when you can


If you need to make sleep at night as much of a priority as your exercise and nutrition, and I promise you will feel the positive effects it has on your mind and body in no time.

Posted by Sam Wood

Father and husband, on a mission to help people move more, eat better and make a positive change. Sam Wood has over 18 years experience in the health and fitness industry, and is recognised as one of Australia’s leading experts and media commentators. He is also the founder and trainer at Australia’s number one online fitness and nutrition program, and owner of Australia’s largest personal training studio, The Woodshed.