Sleep is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves on a daily basis. When we sleep our body recovers from the day, reduces inflammation, produces hormones, and helps with cognitive function, to name just a few. Personal Trainers will tell us all the time how important it is to get a goodnight’s sleep, but what happens when the quantity of our sleep out works the quality of sleep?
We focus so much on how long we are sleeping that we never really focus on how well we are sleeping. Even if we get 8 hours of sleep, if we are still waking up tired, groggy, and like we need an extra hour then the quality of our sleep might be the culprit. The quality of the sleep we get can be equally, if not more important than how long we are sleeping.
So, what can we do about it? How can we Improve the quality of our rest and ensure we are ready to go for the day? Well, here are a few areas to consider when assessing our sleep habits
Caffeine is a stimulant that is often over used in today’s society, especially with the lack of quality sleep we get. We turn to stimulants to try to get us through the day, but did you know that the mid-day coffee, energy drink, or pre-workout we take later in the day might be screwing us over for our sleep at night?
While the effects of caffeine can typically be felt within about 15 minutes, and peaks in about an hour, it last much longer than that in the blood stream. Half the caffeine we intake will still be in our body 6 hours after we consume it, and will typically take about 10 hours to fully clear the body. That means that mid-day pick-me-up at 3pm can have lasting effects until 1pm.
This is an area to keep an eye on when looking to improve sleep quality, by either taking in smaller doses of caffeine later in the day or avoiding it altogether. For those who like to work-out later in the day, this doesn’t mean you can’t take pre-workout but it would be a good idea to look for a lower caffeine product.
Setting the temperature of your room before going to bed can be a vital part of how we can increase our sleep quality. If we are waking up multiple times throughout the night either freezing or sweating (and not finding the balance between the two) we are going to have a crappy sleep as a whole.
As our body produces melatonin, our internal core temperature starts to drop as the body pumps more blood out to our extremities. This continues as we get into our sleep cycle until the morning time when our body temperature rises. This is controlled by our circadian rhythm, which is our bodies internal clock.
Normally, a room that is too warm will be more detrimental to our sleep than a room that is too cold. If the room is too warm our body begins to sweat and become more dehydrated, which causes us to wake up and have to go get water throughout the night. This also effects our circadian rhythm as having a high body temperature is an indicator for us to wake up rather than continue to sleep restfully.
By setting the room temperature slightly lower or turning on a cooling fan we can create a better environment for us to fall asleep in, and get a better quality of sleep. As an Edmonton Personal Trainer, I can say it’s not too hard for us to cool down the room for most of the year!
Another way we can help this is by having a warm bath prior to going to bed, as afterwards it will help us feel cooler.
Reducing our screen time can help our health and wellness both physically and mentally in a number of different ways, but it can especially help us sleep better. Electronic devices can greatly affect our circadian rhythm, which as I mentioned before is our internal clock.
When we take in the blue light from the devices we use (TV, Cell Phone, Computers, Etc.) it not only stimulates the brain with whatever content is being taken in, but it also fools the brain to thinking that it is day time as well. So, when we take in this light prior to trying to go to bed we actually do ourselves a disservice.
We need to give ourselves time to decompress, and not overstimulate ourselves prior to going to sleep. It’s good practice to try to avoid electronic devices for about an hour before going to bed. Replacing this time with reading, journaling, meditation, or conversation can be a way to slow the body down, to allow us to sleep quicker and get a better quality all around.
Sleep is such a vital part of our health and wellness, and it is probably one of the most underutilized by many individuals (especially youth). Nothing will ever replace a good night’s sleep in terms of the effects it has on the body. Whether you are looking to lose weight, gain muscle, or simply perform better on a day-to-day basis (whether it’s physical activity or not), sleep will always help in a positive way.
For more help with lifestyle coaching, and to have a plan put in place for you, message me today and learn more about the programs available with RK Athletics. Follow @rkathletics1 on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube for me tips and fitness advice.
Helping you live your best life,