Posted on April 23 2018
You already know that when it comes to working out, eating right and seeing results, you need to factor in plenty of rest and recovery. But did you know that sleep and exercise results are completely linked? Train without adequate rest and your body simply won't repair itself, leaving you feeling tired, run down, at risk of conditions such as adrenal fatigue and injury and certainly not seeing the body composition changes you are working towards.
Given how important rest and recovery are when you're getting that nutrition spot on and working out regularly, let's take a closer look at some fascinating facts about those ZZZs.
It's natural for humans to experience dips in energy at around 2am and 2pm. The mid-afternoon slump is a great time for a siesta if you can get away with one. A well-balanced lunch will also help to avoid any sugar peaks and troughs – add protein to maximise consistent energy and try to avoid coffee as a false pick-me-up.
Those who are separated, widowed or divorced report suffering more than their paired-up counterparts. Perhaps it's time to get back into the dating game and find that special someone if you're alone and regularly suffering from 4am wakefulness?
Sleep and exercise are linked. Many people don't realise that sleep, exercise and nutrition form a pyramid: take away one 'leg' and all of your progress topples over. Invest time in finding the right balance of all three that works for you.
We need around seven to nine hours of quality sleep a night. Quality sleep is defined as being restful and recuperative. You'll know if you've experienced it – and your fitness tracker can give you great insights into how your night breaks down into different types of sleep and general tossing about too.
Exercise can help you to sleep, but avoid high-intensity stuff just before bed. Keep your harder workouts to the daytime and if you want to exercise in the evening, choose gentle activities such as yoga, swimming or walking, which help you to wind down.
Everyone will have a different need and tolerance level for napping. Children generally need to nap in the afternoon until they are around 3 years old. Adults benefit from a nap too, and countries which include a siesta as part of their culture tend to have lower incidences of heart disease, stress and other conditions.
Those who don't sleep enough will tend to eat more, as their natural levels of the appetite-regulating hormone leptin are lower. So if you find yourself binging on carbs (that’s us, hi!), look to your sleep.
Caffeine is the world's most popular stimulant, but it can negatively impact sleep, especially if you are sensitive to it. Switch to decaf after 3pm and you should see improvements in your overall sleep.
A good sleep routine is the key to getting enough shut-eye. Go to bed at a similar time and don't lie in at the weekends, as this disrupts your body clock. Work back from the time you need to be up and calculate how much sleep you need. Most smartphones come with alarms that tell you when to go to sleep as well as when to get up.
Avoid eating a big meal before bed if you want to sleep well. Choose sources of tryptophan such as turkey, cottage cheese and bananas to help you drift off naturally. Avoid high levels of sugar and other stimulants – remember that chocolate also contains caffeine (hate to break it to you!). Avoid alcohol, too, as it leads to wakefulness at night thanks to blood sugar havoc – this is usually why you feel exhausted on a hangover, even if you did manage a full seven hours.
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