Are you one of those busy bees that have 6939247103 things to do in a day and often stay up late into the night to get those things done? Have you noticed that you've plateaued in your fitness journey whether that means weight loss has slowed or that you aren't progressing with your cardiovascular or strength goals? You could be eating well, fitting in a few workouts a week but just not seeing the results you expected. Maybe you're taking longer to recover from hard sessions or even having to decrease intensity. You may need more sleep in your life!
Getting Zzzz's affects more than just your mental clarity. It's your body's time to focus on recovery which includes vital processes such as muscle synthesis. Every time that you complete an intense workout, you cause small microtears in your muscles. These tears are actually good because the muscle rebuilds stronger and thicker, which is how you gain lean mass or "tone up." If your body continuously misses out on vital recovery time, you will find yourself more susceptible to chronic muscle soreness and fatigue, strains and sprains, and you may even lose mass over time. It won't matter how many grams of protein or aminos you take each day if your body doesn't have the time to actually use it. Another negative is that your motivation may be there mentally, but physically your body says no. If you trip over your feet 3 times trying to just run the warm up laps, we can only imagine how the rest of the workout will go.
Lack of sleep can also deter your weight loss plans. Think about this; If you're awake for 20 hours a day, how many times do you need to fuel yourself to keep your body going? When you're tired, it seems like you're always hungry. Why is this? That's your body trying to find an energy source to keep you going on overtime. In addition, when you have a crazy schedule, unless you have planned out your meals and snacks earlier in the week, it's easy to grab the less-than-ideal, but convenient food options. Carbs are the only energy source that gives you an immediate energy boost. When you are tired, it's these sources that you crave. While carbs are not bad for you per say, not all source are created equal. A bowl of brown rice is filled with more nutrients and fiber than a donut. But when you're between appointments or racing to pick your kids up from school, which is available at 7-Eleven?
What can you do in your everyday life to ensure that you get more sleep??
1. Get organized- Spend time planning out your days so you know what time frame you have to accomplish all of your tasks. Make a schedule and stick to it. Lay out your work clothes and gym bag the night before. Plan out you lunch and snacks.
2. Prioritize - Do you really need to clean out your closet Wednesday night, or can that wait until the weekend? Don't add unnecessary stress to your life.
3. Grocery shopping and meal prep - Go out and buy groceries so that you have healthy options for meals and snacks. It may take too long for you to plan out every meal but at least having your lunch and a few snacks done ahead of time will save you time, money, and calories. Breakfast options tend to be quick anyways. It only takes a few minutes to scramble some eggs, or throw some greek yogurt and fruit in a bowl. Your dinner should be the lightest meal anyways so throw cut up some chicken and veggies on the same pan and throw it in the oven while you shower OR get a quick workout in
4. Maximize workouts with minimal time- Unless your career involves fitness or athletics, who really has 2-3 hours of free time to spend in the gym? Instead of going on a long run, try some HIIT and weight training to get more bang for your buck.
5. Wake up early rather than go to bed later - This may sound stupid at first because you're just switching up the time frame that you are awake but hear me out. Get to bed earlier and just wake up 1 - 2 hours earlier than you need to. People tend to have more mental and physical energy early in the morning. I find that when I try to grind out work into the late hours of the night, it tends to take much longer and I end of making more mistakes. When I dedicate myself to waking up earlier, I create quality work in a percentage of the time. And you'll feel less pressure to accomplish these tasks when you have the entire day ahead of you still. You could also try fitting your workout first thing in the morning as well. Early exercise wakes you body up giving you an energy boot, revs up you metabolism, and actually encourages you to make better food choices throughout the day. You will drink more water and this helps to stave off cravings that could be masking dehydration.
6. Multitask- Can you combine some of your tasks? What if you made family time into exercise? Create fitness competitions and set family goals. Take a daily walk together. Take a 15 min workout break between your children's' homework and your work. Have your spouse cook dinner while you go for a jog and then you can do the dishes while he runs. Work together to get the most out of your days.
7. Clean up sleep habits - If you simply have trouble falling asleep at night, try changing some of your habits. Eat dinner earlier so your body has longer to digest before you lie down. Turn off all electronics and lights. Yes, this includes your cell phone and TV. Any stimulation can prolong the time it takes for you to fall asleep. Drink a cup of caffeine-free chamomile tea. Try meditation. If you carry stress in your body, try some progressive relaxation techniques or belly breathing.
While it can seem like it's impossible to find more time in a day, it is imperative for our health to get enough sleep. It is mentally and physically draining on our bodies. It can affect our personal and professional relationships. If you're not getting the rest that you need, what small changes can you start to implement daily to ensure that you do?