Let me guess; if you’ve written any New Year’s resolutions which are to do with your body shape, they’ll include fitness and nutrition. But do they include sleep? It’s interesting that I’m always asked for advice on fitness programmes and what food to eat/not eat, but nobody has ever asked how to get more sleep. Without sufficient sleep, your health and fitness goals will be so much harder to achieve.
Well for starters, quite simply everything feels harder when you’re tired. But apart from that, there are many sciencey reasons too. Firstly, your metabolism (and hence your weight) is affected by sleep deprivation by altering levels of hormones which affect your appetite. Always feel hungrier in the afternoons when you’ve had too little sleep? Yep, that’ll be the old hormones at work. Rather than coming up with strategies to step away from the fridge at 3pm, let’s approach it differently. How about avoiding that sugar craving in the first place? And how? Sleep more. Simples.
(with thanks to Tempo Training for this graphic!)
Ok, so when you throw a bit of reality into this, it’s never as simple as it seems. But like fitness and nutrition, Rome wasn’t built in a day and it’s all about creating habits you can continue well beyond the New Year’s Resolution excitement. If you’re in the habit of going to bed after midnight, then suddenly going to bed at 10, might not feel right for you. But try going at 11. Your mother was right – every hour of sleep before midnight is worth two after!
I often experience that look of disbelief when I tell people that I go to bed at 9.30. But I do. I’m always in bed by 9.30 when my alarm is due to go off at 5.15am for Early Birds and even on other nights, I’m pretty much always in bed by 10. In fact, our family of 5 often all go to bed at the same time and have that Walton scenario “Night Mum!” “Night Stanley!” “Night Dad!” ” Night Stanley” etc.
Yes, sometimes I’m out and get to bed later than that but my days of staying up watching rubbish TV until well past midnight are a long time behind me. It simply doesn’t work to try staying healthy and fit, while maintaining a happy family life AND running a business. Waking up after 7 or 8 hours sleep feels GOOD. I have energy, I want good food and I WANT to workout. It is not something I feel I SHOULD do, but really truly WANT to.
Imagine how it would feel if your health and fitness journey were made much easier. Now try going to bed earlier. It might be the best habit you change this year.