I always ask my clients how much sleep they are getting. If you are not getting 8 hours sleep each night it's time to start! It is always prescribed by me, as a part of any good training and nutritional regime. You can definitely train and function on little sleep and you will be ok, no ones ever died from a lack of sleep (true story). But it definitely makes a difference in your attitude, motivation, mood and the want to train and eat correctly. Why would you not do everything you can, to maximise your results? I understand after working with families for 6 years as a nanny and working with many mums in the gym, that as a new mum or dad it is extremely hard to put your sleep first or yourself at all. However it is important to establish good routine for sleep time for your children so that you also can get a good night's sleep. -People sleeping less than the recommended 8 hours sleep have been shown to have been 3.5 times more likely to have health problems.
-A good night's sleep will balance hormones to increase protein synthesis and break down the fats that's supply energy for tissue repair
-Sleep restores your growth hormone levels after being awake, where your cortisol (stress hormone) have been increased to mobilise sugars for daily activities.
Put simply sleep is your recovery part if your training regime. It is an essential element to your long term health and results. Here are my personal top tips for improving your sleep quality:
1. Set a strict bed time and wake up time - get into bed on time. 9.30pm is a good time and 6.30am is a good wake up time. I always allow an hour to get to sleep. Hence this period of time is 9 hours not 8.
2. Do not use electronic devices before bed, this includes the TV, phone, ipad, computer or music. Keep this to an absolute minimum. I have my phone and ipad set to an automatic "do not disturb" setting between the hours of 9pm and 6am.
3. Exercise! Wear yourself out in the day and preferably in the morning. You should be wrecked after an early rise, a good gym session and a day at work.
4. Cut your caffeine intake. Especially if you are sensitive to caffeine. A great app to track your caffeine intake is "Up Coffee" by Jawbone from the App Store.
5. Meditation and relaxation - take time out before bed! Calm your breathing by using your belly breath. Down load an app called "Omvana" from the App Store for some guided meditation.
6. BREATH! If you raise your shoulders or chest when breathing you are doing it wrong! Get to a yoga class and learn how to breath properly!
7. My personal favourite... TAPE YOUR MOUTH CLOSED! I have talked about this a lot with people struggling to sleep well. Get some gentle 3M medical tape and place a small amount over your lips. This will help calm your breathing, allow you to get a better quality breath, balance blood chemistry, and allow you to rest the way nature intended you too! It's not scary, it's calming and relaxing, I promise!
8. Track your sleep. Down load "Sleep Cycle" from the App Store. This will show you how much quality sleep you are actually getting. You can compare the nights you get good sleep and the ones you don't and track what made you sleep better.
9. Supplements - always take a good multivitamin, fish oil and always get your bloods done every 3-6 months to address any nutritional defficiencies that can really effect energy and hormones.
10. Ear plugs and eye mask. If you trouble with light and blocking out noise such as your partner snoring, GET EAR PLUGS! Seriously helps you sleep. You will hear your alarm, just set it loud and turn on a viabration alarm.11. If you don't use an eye mask, get a lamp with a timer. Especially if you wake up when it's dark. I set the timer to turn my lamp on before my sound alarm goes off. I find it's a ver y natural and com way to wake up as it mimics the sun rising.
12. If you are still not sleeping, feeling anxious, over thinking, taking longer than hour to fall asleep, waking up in the wee hours of the morning, it's time to see someone. For example a doctor, psychologist, sleep specialist or all of the above.
If you are doing everything else right but struggling with sleep, make it your priority to get it sorted. This could be the missing link in your chain of success!