January is almost over and many of us would have committed to reaching fitness goals and working hard to achieve them. In addition to getting active and following a training plan, it’s likely you’ve been mindful of what you eat too. If this is you, WELL DONE! If not, there’s still 11 months of the year left so don’t lose hope! Either way, most of us won’t have given much attention to how much sleep we are getting and research shows this is an important element in helping us accomplish our fitness goals. This article looks at how sleep impacts performance and tips to help you prioritise sleep. PLUS I’m giving away a foam mattress pillow valued at $150!
Why does sleep impact performance?
If you look at an athlete you will notice sleep is a large part of their health regime, in addition to food and physical training. Energy is provided to both the brain and body, especially during Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. This is important because physical training exhausts energy, fluids, and breaks down muscle. Whilst nutrition and hydration can help replenish this, sleep also helps the body repair memory, consolidates memory, and release important hormones. This helps maintain and improve endurance, reaction times, speed, and accuracy (and of course helps you burn more energy & lose weight quicker!).
Sleep deprivation Effects
The amount of sleep we need differs for each person, however 8 and a quarter hours is the average and 7 – 9 is the recommended amount for an adult. When we are sleep deprived, the body fails to perform at it’s best – both mentally and physically.
When you’re sleep deprived you’ll notice you lose concentration easily and have mood alterations. You’ll notice you feel more depressed and irritable and you will find it harder to stay positive. It’s so much harder to motivate yourself to exercise then – take it from me, a sleep deprived Mum!
Stress and fatigue
Some research has found lack of sleep escalates levels of stress hormone, cortisol (the same hormone that makes you put on weight around your belly). It can also reduce the production of glycogen and carbohydrates that are kept for energy use during exercise. The result of this is fatigue, low energy, and inability to focus when it comes to your physical training. Sleep deprivation is likely to also slow your recovery.
So, how can we make more time for sleep?
Value and prioritise sleep
Like most health related goals, you have to prioritise it. Learn why you value sleep, so it’s easier to justify prioritising it above other things you might enjoy like staying out with friends late, watching TV, or exercising late in the evening – all of which stimulate you and can make it harder to get to sleep. To start this new trend it might even be helpful to write down these reasons you value sleep to remind yourself when you’re tempted to ‘just keep going’ which will result in poor results later.
Positive sleep environment
It can also help if you make a positive sleep environment for yourself. This includes a comfortable mattress, pillow and a blanket that’s the right weight so you can be a comfortable temperature. You might remember me saying on instagram recently I’ve swapped to a pillow by Ergoflex, the memory foam mattress company. It has made the world of difference for my neck and shoulders and I
love flopping into bed with its support and comfort.
Win a Memory Foam Pillow (RRP $150)
This competition has now closed, thanks to everyone that entered and congratulations to the winner @pinch_of_food
Ergoflex have been generous enough to give one pillow (RRP $150) to giveaway to help one lucky reader improve their sleep environment! Simply head to this instagram post and follow the instructions there to enter! Closes midnight 17 February 2017, winners will be contacted via email and announced on this post.
This post is sponsored by Ergoflex. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who make Eat Pray Workout possible. All opinions are my own and not influenced in any way.
Sleep facts via Australasian Sleep Association and National Sleep Foundation websites.