What if I told you that you can do one simple thing that increases muscular and cognitive function, concentration, reduces fatigue, lowers resting heart rate, lowers heart rate at a submaximal effort, and aids in recovery? Sounds like a miracle drug! What if this one thing was a pill, would you take it? What if I also told you that this thing happens to everyone, everyday? What if I told you that this thing is vastly overlooked in our society, and is often frowned upon when done at inappropriate times?
Our society today is built on the idea that you have to be ever present and ever productive as a worker bee in whatever state of business you call home. We only have so many hours in the day to accomplish the great many tasks assigned to us. Furthermore, we have familial and habitual obligations that occupy the rest of our time. To accommodate for all of these tasks that consume time, what happens is we sacrifice the amount of time we dedicate to sleep.
Sleep is the magic pill mentioned before, and is either directly or indirectly responsible for all those major bodily functions. Take a second to go back to the list of effects that sleep has on your body. Now ask yourself, why would you ever voluntarily cut out the amount of time that you need to sleep?
I’m not going to bore you with the physiology of it, but poor sleep has other health impacts than just from the perspective of exercise. Reduced amount of sleep can cause some people to have a higher predisposition to act impulsively. Also, reduced sleep can lead to cravings of glucose, because the brain is trying to feed itself energy. What you’re left with is a higher probability that you grab that extra candy bar staring at you while you checkout at the grocery store.
It may not seem like much to have one extra candy bar now and then, and it truly isn’t in moderation, but when you’re talking about making lasting lifestyle changes - why not address the root of the issue? To continue with this example, adding a half hour of sleep may have a greater long-term impact than admonishing yourself every time you cheat on your diet.
Let’s not deprive ourselves of the things in life that bring us joy. Instead, let’s set ourselves up for success by adding to the amount we sleep just a little.
One thing that I have found helpful is to schedule out my sleep like I schedule out my work day. As a person who has to get up at 4 in the morning regularly, I make it a point to be ready for bed by 8. One way I do that is by taking melatonin, which you may or may not have tried before, but it has been essential for me getting the sleep I need for a full day. Just like anything with your body, there is an adjustment period. So if you decide to try melatonin, make sure to give it at least a month before you call it quits.
Going back to familial obligations, I understand that some of us have others to take care of before we take care of ourselves. I’m not saying to put yourself first at any cost from here on out, what I recommend is to try expanding the total daily amount that you sleep by 15 or 30 minutes in a week. That’s it!
Sleep is that important, folks! It is essential to how we operate on a biological level. Any individual who exercises regularly needs it for the restorative properties it has. Make sleep a priority if it isn’t already. You can never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep.
Jack is a Tri Fitness Coach, and his credentials include NASM CPT, B.S. in Kinesiology, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities. If you’d like help setting and achieving your health and wellness goals, please contact Jack at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an appointment.